Hearing Tuesday on proposal to regulate and tax marijuana for adult use

The Public Health Committee of the Connecticut General Assembly is scheduled to hold a hearing Tuesday on H.B. 5314, one of four proposals to regulate and tax marijuana for adult use that have been introduced this year in the General Assembly.

Prior to the hearing, the sponsors of all four measures will join additional lawmakers and the newly formed Connecticut Coalition to Regulate Marijuana (CCRM) for a news conference at 9:30 a.m. in Room 1B of the Legislative Office Building. The hearing is scheduled to begin one hour later in Room 1D.

H.B. 5314, sponsored by state Rep. Melissa Ziobron (R-East Haddam), directs the Department of Consumer Protection to establish a regulated system of marijuana cultivation and sales for adults 21 years of age and older. The Department of Revenue Services would create a tax structure that would generate revenue for the state and certain municipalities.

“One of my goals in proposing legislation to legalize marijuana is to promote a healthy and substantive discussion on the issue,” Ziobron said. “I feel that the legalization of marijuana is inevitable and, as such, Connecticut should be at the forefront of the movement in order to set the standard for effective policy.”

Ziobron and the sponsors of three similar proposals — Senate President Pro Tempore Martin Looney (D-New Haven) and Reps. Juan Candelaria (D-New Haven) and Toni Walker (D-New Haven) — have agreed to work together to end marijuana prohibition in Connecticut and ensure whichever bill moves forward will create the best system possible for regulating and taxing marijuana.

“The vast majority of voters in Connecticut think it is time to end marijuana prohibition and start regulating it similarly to alcohol,” said CCRM Director Sam Tracy. “Marijuana is less harmful than alcohol to the consumer and to society. It should be produced and sold by tightly regulated, taxpaying businesses, not by criminals in the underground market.”

Nearly two-thirds of Connecticut voters (63%) support making possession of small amounts of marijuana legal for adults, according to a Quinnipiac University Poll conducted in March 2015.