HARTFORD, CT — With less than two days left in the legislative session, the House of Representatives is preparing for a debate on legalizing marijuana.
It would be the first time the Connecticut House debates establishing a recreational cannabis law in the state, which already has a medical marijuana program and has decriminalized small amounts of marijuana.
House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz, D-Berlin, said the issue would be debated for more than an hour and, like a handful of other bills this session, it would be tabled without a vote.
Aresimowicz said he doesn’t believe there’s enough support to pass the measure, however, he wants to make sure the topic is debated in case it gets added to the state budget.
Democrats have estimated that legalizing marijuana will bring in $60 million in revenue in 2018 and $100 million in 2019.
House Minority Leader Themis Klarides, R-Derby, confirmed the plan Monday night.
There is still bipartisan support for the measure even after an argument between the bill’s lead Republican proponent and Democratic lawmakers killed any prospect that it would be raised on Monday.
A press conference called by Rep. Josh Elliott, D-Hamden, and Rep. Juan Candelaria, D-New Haven, on Monday was first delayed and then abruptly called off after Rep. Melissa Ziobron, R-East Haddam, walked out.
“For this legislation to pass the House it needs to truly be a bipartisan effort,” she said. “For me to be left out of the process until the last minute is just wrong.”
The amendment has been modified to win Ziobron’s support, even though it won’t be called for a vote.
The pattern of debating and tabling is a recognition that the Democrats don’t have as large a majority as they have had in the past. They have a slim, 79-72 majority over Republicans in the House and are tied 18-18 in the state Senate.
On Monday, a bill to require the Division of Criminal Justice to compile a preliminary report within 40 days after a deadly police shooting was tabled in the House and last week a debate on whether undocumented immigrant students should have access to the college financial aid pool into which they pay with their tuition was tabled in the Senate.