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CT Marijuana Legalization Being Looked At In 2021: Lamont

Marijuana, transportation infrastructure and health care are some issues that need to be looked at in 2021, Gov. Ned Lamont said.

By Rich Scinto , Patch Staff
Nov 4, 2020 12:45 p m ET | Updated Nov 4, 2020 5:41 p m ET

CONNECTICUT — Connecticut will likely take another look at legalizing recreational marijuana, especially now that New Jersey voters approved it during Tuesday’s election.

Connecticut also has to solve its transportation funding problems and Gov. Ned Lamont admitted that tolls clearly weren’t a popular option. Health care will be another important issue on the table in 2021 and Lamont said he was open to the possibility of a public option.

“We’re much stronger when we work on a regional basis,” Gov. Ned Lamont said during a Wednesday news conference about marijuana, adding that one of the lessons learned from the coronavirus pandemic is Connecticut is stronger when it works with its neighbors.

Massachusetts, Maine and Vermont have legalized recreational marijuana. The issue has also come up multiple times in recent years in New Hampshire, Rhode Island and New York.

“My thinking is sort of similar when it comes to marijuana . I think that we do something, we do it on a regional basis,” he said.

New Jersey residents voted by a 2 to 1 margin to legalize recreational marijuana. Connecticut’s constitution doesn’t allow for such ballot questions unless it’s in the form of a constitutional amendment, which is a lengthy process. Legislators have tried to push the issue through legislative votes, but have come up short.

Lamont will go into the 2021 legislative session with even greater Democratic majorities in both the state House and Senate.

“I think it was a pretty strong mandate for the Democrats, building on what you saw in 2018, both in the state House and the state Senate,” Lamont said.

Lamont asked people to have patience when it came to tallying the results of the presidential election across the country. He said he was pleased with how the election ran smoothly in Connecticut, with voters wearing masks and social distancing.

“Don’t cast shade, Mr. President, don’t undermine the integrity of our democracy,” Lamont said. “This is too important a time.”

Health care affordability is another issue Lamont wants to tackle in 2021, especially if the Affordable Care Act is invalidated by the U.S. Supreme Court. He said he will examine bolstering the state’s health care insurance exchange.

“I’m looking at all solutions I can to make health care more affordable, broadly speaking, the individuals, the self-employed, small business,” he said. “And if you know our insurance companies can’t come up with a solution, maybe public option will be one of the ideas on the table.”

Connecticut has taken a hit in recent months to gas tax revenues due to the coronavirus pandemic, Lamont said. Some federal CARES Act funding was used for transportation projects.

“We know we’re going to have to change the way we fund transportation and I’m going to sit down with the legislature,” he said. “Look, let’s face it my solution wasn’t very popular with republicans or democrats, but nor do they have a solution of their own.”

Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz said that a Joe Biden presidential victory could mean more federal dollars for infrastructure projects across the country, including in Connecticut.

CT Marijuana Legalization Being Looked At In 2021: Lamont – Across Connecticut, CT – Marijuana, transportation infrastructure and health care are some issues that need to be looked at in 2021, Gov. Ned Lamont said.

Study: Legal marijuana in Connecticut would raise between $784M and $952M in state taxes in first five years

HARTFORD — A new study by a UConn economist says legalizing recreational marijuana in Connecticut would generate between $784 million and $952 million in new state tax revenue over five years.

The study, funded by a national group that lobbies for marijuana legalization, says direct new revenue from legalization would range from $35 million to $48 million in the first year of sales to as high as $223 million in the fifth year.

The money would help the state in the long run, but officials say the program would not be up and running quickly enough to directly impact the current fiscal year’s deficit of $2 billion, driven largely by the coronavirus pandemic. The General Assembly has debated marijuana legalization for several years and that debate is expected to resume when lawmakers return to session in January.

UConn professor Fred Carstensen, the study’s author who serves as the director of the Connecticut Center for Economic Analysis at the UConn School of Business, said that multiple variables would change the amount of jobs created and tax revenue generated. The number of jobs, for example, could range from a low of 10,424 to a high of 17,462 in the fifth year, depending how much of the tax revenue is spent by the state in an attempt to generate economic activity.

A new study by a UConn economist says Connecticut would receive millions of dollars in tax revenues and create or preserve as many as 17,000 jobs in the fifth year by legalizing recreational marijuana in a post-pandemic world.