Future of Recreational Marijuana in Connecticut Still Unclear

June 13, 2019

Last year, the Democrats in Connecticut swept toward historic victories in the House, Senate, and Governor’s Office—positioning themselves to enact a series of new progressive reforms in the 2019 legislative session.  For the first time in decades, and in one case nearly a century, Democrats claimed new seats in the traditionally Republican stronghold of Fairfield county.  Attributing their wider margin to a “blue wave,” the majority party began the session with renewed energy and a fresh perspective.  Among their biggest priority was the desire to join ten other states and Washington D.C. in the legalization of recreational marijuana.  Three joint committees, (1) Finance, Revenue, and Bonding; (2) General Law; and (3) Judiciary all voted in favor of proposals to legalize and sent them to the House and Senate for consideration.

Connecticut is a part time legislature, running January through June in an odd-numbered year and February through May in an even-numbered year. The House and Senate adjourned on June 5th, and expect to gavel in to a special session with a number of priorities remaining. While it once seemed inevitable that Connecticut would legalize recreational marijuana, its future in the state is unclear. Most observers speculate that the state is just not ready. If that is true, the measure is also unlikely to pass in 2020 given its controversial nature in what’s expected to be a contentious election year. To be successful, advocates need a multi-disciplinary campaign to help educate the public and overcome stigma to garner support for or neutralize opposition to recreational marijuana. All proposals may still be on the table, but it’s going to take a comprehensive advocacy strategy for recreational marijuana to become legal in Connecticut.

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