The State Senate opened the special session by passing recreational marijuana legislation on Tuesday evening, but as legislators cast their votes, Gov. Ned Lamont threatened to veto the version of the bill they were voting on.
Earlier in the day, legislators amended the marijuana bill to prioritize people previously convicted of cannabis possession applying for licenses to start legal recreational marijuana businesses.
Half of all recreational marijuana licenses have been set to go to “social equity applicants,” who were previously defined by their place of residence and income: applicants from low-income areas or areas with high unemployment, or individuals whose income is under 300% of the state median income.
After the amendment, applicants could also qualify if they, or an immediate family member, have been arrested or convicted on marijuana charges.
At issue is the lack of income requirement in the amendment, meaning that a wealthy person charged with, or related to someone charged with cannabis possession could also access prioritized licensing.
“Senate Bill 1201 now allows just about history of cannabis crimes or a member of their family, regardless of financial means, who was once arrested on simple possession to be considered with the same weight as someone from a neighborhood who has seen many of their friends and loved ones face significant penalties and discrimination for their past cannabis crimes,” said Paul Mounds, the governor’s chief of staff. “That is not equity, and Governor Lamont will veto this bill if it reaches his desk in this current form.”