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Senate President Pro Tempore

Martin M. Looney

Representing New Haven, Hamden & North Haven

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Looney Announces Support of Cannabis Bills

Today, Senate President Pro Tempore Martin M. Looney (D-New Haven) submitted testimony in support of four different pieces of legislation regarding cannabis legalization before legislative committees.

In the Judiciary Committee Sen. Looney supported Senate Bill 1085 - An Act Concerning The Legalization Of The Retail Sale And Possession Of Cannabis And Concerning Erasure Of Criminal Records In The Case Of Convictions Based On The Possession Of A Small Amount Of Cannabis; Senate Bill 1089 - An Act Concerning Cannabis And The Workplace; and House Bill 7372 - An Act Concerning Driving While Under The Influence Of An Intoxicating Drug.

Sen. Looney’s testimony states:

“Cannabis prohibition has lasted 80 years. Yet, it has been just as much of a failure as America’s short-lived experiment with alcohol prohibition. It is time we take the rational, common-sense approach to cannabis as we did with alcohol.

“Legalization of cannabis makes sense for numerous reasons, one being that, as was the case with alcohol in the 1920s, prohibition breeds violence. Since drug-related disputes can’t be resolved lawfully, violent conflict becomes inevitable. In a regulated system, cannabis will be produced and sold by legitimate, taxpaying businesses instead of drug cartels and criminals.

“I am also pleased to see that Senate Bill 1085 includes significant provisions to facilitate the erasure of criminal records for individuals previously convicted of conduct made legal by the bill. This is an absolutely critical issue for communities in which have been disproportionately harmed by strict enforcement of drug laws. No person’s future should be compromised for conduct that the majority of the population thinks should be legal.”

If enacted, Senate Bill 1085, An Act Concerning The Legalization Of The Retail Sale And Possession Of Cannabis And Concerning Erasure Of Criminal Records In The Case Of Convictions Based On The Possession Of A Small Amount Of Cannabis, would:

Permit consumers 21 and older to possess up to 1.5 ounce of cannabis, of which no more than five grams may be concentrates. Add smoked cannabis to the definition of “smoking” for the purposes of the clean indoor air act Permit a person who has been convicted of possession of a controlled substance for possession of less than 1.5 ounces of a cannabis-type substance, to file a petition for erasure of such conviction with the Superior Court. The person must include a copy of the arrest record or an affidavit supporting the petition. If the petition is in order, the Superior Court then shall direct all police and court records and records of the state's or prosecuting attorney pertaining to such case to be physically destroyed. The bill also prohibits fees from being charged for such petitions.

If enacted, House Bill 7372 - An Act Concerning Driving While Under The Influence Of An Intoxicating Drug, would:

  • Make it a class C misdemeanor for a person to (1) smoke, otherwise inhale or ingest a cannabis-type substance while operating a motor vehicle upon a public highway or (2) smoke a cannabis-type substance in a motor vehicle that is being operated by another person upon a public highway.
  • Create a grant program, administered by OPM, to reimburse municipalities for the costs associated with the training of police officers to act as drug recognition experts.

If enacted, Senate Bill 1089 - An Act Concerning Cannabis And The Workplace, would:

  • Provide that no employer is required to make accommodations for an employee or allow an employee to perform his or her duties while under the influence of a cannabis-type substance or possess, smoke or otherwise consume a cannabis-type substance while performing such duties.

In the General Law Committee Sen. Looney supported House Bill 7371- An Act Concerning The Retail Sale Of Cannabis.

Sen. Looney’s testimony states:

“Legalization can also help Connecticut’s economy. Colorado has issued 40, 334 licenses to individuals to work directly in the cannabis industry. Cannabis businesses also retain workers and utilize services from a wide variety of collateral sectors, including construction, engineering, security, legal, insurance and real estate. An economic analysis of the legal cannabis industry found that it generated $2.4 billion in overall economic activity in 2015. And this bill contains specific provisions designed to encourage small business development and promote diversity. The Cannabis Control Board, in conjunction with the Office of Justice Reinvestment, would be required to adopt procedures and policies to promote a diverse industry, including licensees who are part of communities that have been disproportionately harmed by cannabis prohibition and enforcement.”

If enacted, House Bill 7371, An Act Concerning The Retail Sale Of Cannabis, would:

  • Create a Cannabis Control Commission composed of five commissioners appointed by the Governor, one of whom shall be the Commissioner of Consumer Protection. Two members shall have backgrounds in social justice or civil rights and one member shall have a background working in economic development.
  • Provide for 4 types of regulated businesses: retailers, cultivation facilities, product manufacturers, and laboratories. Also directs the Commission to study the feasibility of establishing a cannabis microbusiness license.
  • Require the DCP to develop comprehensive rules, including governing security, labeling, and inspections; prohibiting toxic or addictive additives; restricting advertising; and standards and rules for laboratory testing, which will include testing for contaminants and potency.
  • Require the Cannabis Control Commission to promote and encourage full participation in the cannabis industry by people from communities that have been disproportionately harmed by cannabis prohibition and enforcement.The commission is required to:
    • Engage in outreach to educate such persons regarding ownership and employment opportunities regarding cannabis establishments.
    • Establish an "equity" applicant status to include individuals from communities disproportionately impacted by high rates of arrest and conviction, as well as individuals who can demonstrate documentation as the commission may require, requisite experience with cannabis cultivation, distribution or the sale or manufacture of cannabis products prior to the effective date of this section, or prior conviction for possession of cannabis;
    • Require yearly reporting by each cannabis establishment regarding the diversity of its workforce and ownership
    • Not prohibit individuals with an infraction or misdemeanor drug charge from participating in the cannabis industry;
    • Require that all licensees establish and adhere to policies that encourage diversity for purposes of employment, contracting and other professional service opportunities;
    • Require that any cannabis establishment that is not owned by an equity applicant comply with an approved plan to reinvest or provide employment opportunities in those communities disproportionately impacted by high rates of arrest and conviction and having a history of economic disinvestment, as determined by the commission; and
    • Establish a lower fee structure for equity applicants based upon applicants' assets and income.
  • Direct the Commission to study the feasibility of permitting individuals to cultivate marijuana at home.
  • Permit equity applicants current medical program licensees to apply for licenses three months before other applicants.
  • Permit towns to prohibit or restrict establishments within their borders.
  • Continue the existing medical program and requires DCP and the Cannabis Control Commission to conduct a study for the establishment of a program to subsidize purchases by low-income medical cannabis patients.

For the full testimony from Senator Looney please see attached.

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