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Marijuana legalization debated at Connecticut Capitol

March 22, 2019

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Connecticut lawmakers received input Friday on how a legalized reactional marijuana industry might work in the state, as well as the ramifications of taking such a step.

Two legislative committees heard mixed public reaction on several marijuana-related bills, including the creation of a new Cannabis Control Commission that would regulate the industry and an overhaul of the state’s criminal statutes to ultimately allow people who are at least 21 to buy and use marijuana.

There are also provisions in the bills that would erase some past convictions for marijuana-related crimes; prohibit both a driver and passenger from using marijuana; and make it clear employers don’t have to allow employees to use or possess cannabis in the workplace.

Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont voiced his support for the legislation Friday on Twitter, stating legalization will “lead to a safer market.” Also, he said tax revenue from marijuana sales could be used to “correct historical wrongs and support addiction services.”

But drug treatment experts to business leaders voiced concern about Connecticut following the path of other states that have legalized the drug.

In a group letter, officials from three of Connecticut’s largest employers — Electric Boat Shipyard, Sikorsky Aircraft and United Technologies Corporation — said as federal contractors they are required to have a workplace that is free of controlled substances under the Drug-Free Workplace Act of 1988.

“Many of our employees are required to have security clearances to do their jobs and, as a result, cannot use or possess cannabis,” they wrote.

The three said if Connecticut decides to legalize marijuana, lawmakers should include language that allows employers and federal contractors to “operate our businesses as we see appropriate, comply with federal laws and follow our federal contracts.”

It remains unclear, however, if there is enough support for legalization legislation to pass this year.

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