Every day it seems, more and more states are considering legalizing recreational marijuana and now, Connecticut is added to the mix. For the past month legislators have been debating proposals, and what exactly pot legalization would look like in the state. Some Democrats of the Senate have stated that unless pot legalization entails expunging the records of those in jail for marijuana possession, they will not support any bill.
“Good for them for recognizing what is right, and what is wrong,” says Mark Sherman of The Law Offices of Mark Sherman, LLC. “You simply cannot have people serving time in prison for something that is no longer considered a crime.”
Clearing or reducing criminal convictions for marijuana crimes is a move that Colorado, Maryland, and Oregon have made after marijuana became legal in those states. San Francisco and San Diego were the first cities in California to start the expungement process. Seattle also began expunging records five years after Washington adopted legalization.
However, here in Connecticut, it is not such a black and white issue. Senator Dough McCrory stated in the legislature in early February that if expungement was not part of the plan, he could not support it. State Representative Vincent Candelora though, says that the state already has a process for expunging records and that new legislation should not erase any convictions. Candelora went so far as to say he did not see how one measure affected the other.
One thing most lawmakers can agree on however, is the fact that marijuana legalization should happen. With Massachusetts, a state that has already legalized marijuana, being right next door those in Connecticut realize they would miss out on a major tax opportunity. Early predictions state that Connecticut could see up to $70 million in tax revenue during the first year. In the second year, that number more than doubles, jumping to $150 million.
In addition to the many proposals received for legalizing marijuana, lawmakers are also considering legalizing hemp crops in the state. This move comes after the federal government removed hemp from the Controlled Substances Act in the 2018 Farm Bill. Similarly to the federal law, those in the Legislative Office Building want to allow farmers in the state more opportunities.