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It's official! Connecticut has legalized adult-use cannabis.
Governor Ned Lamont signed S.B. 1201, making the Constitution State the 19th state to legalize cannabis and 6th state to do so since the November 2020 election.
Here's what you need to know about the latest cannabis legalization bill in the country.
Is Adult-Use Cannabis Legal Right Now?
Connecticut has legalized adult-use cannabis but that does not mean it is legal immediately. S.B. 1201 will take effect starting on July 1, 2021.
Legal sales are expected to start in May 2022.
What Is Legal On July 1st?
Possession of Cannabis
Starting on July 1, 2021, possession of up to 1.5 oz of cannabis will be legal for adults. The possession limit for concentrates will be 7.5 g or up to 750 mg of THC for other cannabis products.
Adults may gift cannabis to other adults but not sell it.
Adults can also possess up to 5 oz of cannabis flower buds (25 grams of concentrate or up to 2,500 mg of THC in any other cannabis product) if it is stored a locked container in the home or in a vehicle's locked glove box or trunk.
Purchasing of Marijuana
When retailers open adult-use dispensaries in 2022, adults can purchase up to 1 oz per day (or the equivalent).
Medical patients can buy up to 5 oz per day.
In terms of THC limits, dispensaries are not allowed to sell flower with a concentration of over 30% on a dry weight basis. Generally, most cannabis strains rarely reach above 35% total THC by dry weight.
Products that contain THC derivatives, such as delta-8 THC or delta-10 THC will be considered cannabis and must be sold in licensed dispensaries.
Home cultivation will be allowed for medical patients starting October 1, 2021. Home cultivation for adults will begin July 1, 2023.
Home growing of up to six plants will be defelonized starting July 1, 2021 and will be punishable with an infraction.
Home growers may grow up to three mature plants and three immature plants.
Cannabis clones will not be sold at dispensaries.
Taxes on Adult-Use Cannabis
A new 3% municipal sales tax will be directed to the town or city where the sale occurred. The statewide sales tax is 6.35%. There will also be a tax on the THC content of the product.
- 75 cents per milligram of THC for edibles
- 625 cents per milligram of THC for flower
- 9 cents per milligram of THC for all other products
Social Equity and Criminal Justice Reform
S.B. 1201 will attempt to reduce the challenges faced by those who have cannabis offenses on their record and try to fix the damage caused by cannabis prohibition.
Some cannabis-related convictions that happened between January 1, 2000, and October 1, 2015, will be automatically erased. For convictions that occurred outside of that timeframe, individuals will need to petition to get them erased.
The new law will create an equitable cannabis marketplace that requires at least half of all initial licenses to go to social equity applicants. The Social Equity Council will develop programs and supports for social equity applicants.
Portions of the state revenue from cannabis will be directed to the Social Equity and Innovation Fund for communities that have been disproportionately affected by the war on drugs. The fund will provide business capital, technical assistance for startups, workforce education, and community investments.
Adult-Use Licensing and Regulations
The state’s Department of Consumer Protection (DCP) is responsible for implementing the adult-use program and creating a 15-member Social Equity Council. It will be issuing nine license types.
- Cultivator (15,000 square feet or more)
- Micro cultivator (2,000 to 10,000 square feet)
- Hybrid retailer
- Product manufacturer
- Food and beverage manufacturer
- Product packager
- Delivery service
Application licensing fees will range from $250 to $1,000, which is reasonable compared to other markets. If the license is issued to the applicant, licensing fees will range from $1,000 for micro cultivators to $25,000 for retailers to $75,000 for large-scale cultivators.
If the DCP receives more than the maximum applications when the application window closes, a third-party lottery system will select the winners. Licensees must pass a criminal background check. Minor cannabis convictions will not disqualify applicants.
Cannabis retailer licenses are limited to 1 per 25,000 residents until June 30, 2024. Then, regulators can set a new maximum.
Local governments can prohibit commercial cannabis activity and deliveries within their jurisdiction. They can also set specific restrictions on the number of businesses, locations, and operating hours.
Medical Marijuana Program
Starting September 2021, the state’s existing medical cannabis dispensaries can apply for a hybrid retailer license to serve adults 21 and older.
Medical cannabis dispensaries will need to submit a conversion plan and pay a $1 million fee. The fee could be reduced by half by creating an equity joint venture with a social equity applicant as a majority owner.
Existing medical cultivators can start growing adult-use cannabis later this year by paying a $3 million fee.
In addition, medical cannabis patients will soon be able to buy medical cannabis from any dispensary instead of their assigned ones.
What does Connecticut legalizing recreational marijuana mean for employers? Employers can continue to enforce drug-free workplaces. Employers in certain industries such as healthcare and manufacturing are exempt from the employment provisions of the law.
Under the new law, employers may not prohibit off-work cannabis use. They may not punish the employee or applicant for testing positive for THC unless the employer has instituted a drug-free policy.
Cannabis companies can only place cannabis ads in media where there is “reliable evidence” that at least 90% of the audience is 21 or older.
In addition, advertising cannabis products or paraphernalia is prohibited if it is visible to the public within 500 feet of the following locations
- Elementary or secondary school
- Recreation center or facility
- Child care center
- Public park
- Underage possession will not lead to an arrest.
- Medical cannabis patients who are underage will not be discriminated against.
- Schools must change their policies by January 2022 to make cannabis penalties the same as alcohol.
- Student-athletes cannot be reprimanded for failing a drug test for cannabis.
- Students will not get a financial aid penalty for possession of under 4 oz of cannabis.
- Cannabis use is not allowed in state beaches, state parks, and on state waters.
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