NEW YORK, NY — Gov. Ned Lamont said there was agreement following a meeting with the governors of New York, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey, that they would work together to come up with a similar set of rules around cannabis legalization.
Government officials from Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Colorado were at the meeting too.
Colorado and Massachusetts both have legalized cannabis. The governor’s and their representatives received presentations both on cannabis legalization and vaping. Those discussions were closed to the media, but Lamont did a conference call with reporters after the meeting.
“I think it’s important for the governors to be able to think out loud,” Lamont said regarding the closed nature of the meetings.
He said the governors had questions about things like “edibles and gummy bears” and they needed to feel free to ask those questions.
Lamont said the edibles tend to target younger users and he has some concerns about it.
What are Connecticut’s chances of legalizing it?
“I think I would only consider it if we’re doing it in conjunction with our other states,” Lamont said.
However, he said he’s willing to sign legislation next year even if other states decide not to move forward.
“I would do it in a very carefully regulated way with health and safety paramount,” Lamont said.
He said the rate of taxation is also important because you don’t want states competing with each other when the goal is to snuff out the black market.
Despite several bills being written, and some passing committees, legalization, never came up for a full vote in either Connecticut House or Senate as the debate bogged down over who would get the money from a marijuana tax and whether legalization was worth the legal and societal headaches opponents said it would bring.
Rep. Josh Elliott, D-Hamden, joined Lamont at the summit Thursday and said with the governor’s support he thinks its something they could get done next year.
He said the legislature will likely have to debate whether they legalize it for those 25 and older or 21 and older and whether they allow people to grow it in their home will be another point of contention.
Elliott said he doesn’t know if it will be in 2020, but Connecticut will legalize cannabis soon.
Lamont wants the neighboring states to coordinate regulation of THC, marketing, and taxation of cannabis on a regional basis.
While Lamont is willing to work across state lines he will also have to figure out how to win legislative support for the issue. Sources say Lamont’s ability to work with the legislature is still a work in progress.
Lamont said he thinks if they do it on a carefully regulated basis across the entire region that it would change the dynamic. He said he may be able to find more support for legalization because driving back and forth between the states that have it and that states that don’t create safety issues.
“The idea that we’ve doing this on a very conservative, thoughtful basis with an emphasis on public health and public safety probably changes the dynamic,” Lamont said.
He said some of the other states decided to legalize marijuana before coming up with rules and regulations that make sense.
“We just want to make sure we go in with our eyes wide open and are consistent,” Lamont said. “That’s why I want to coordinate before I go forward.”
At the same time, Lamont said he wasn’t rushing into anything. He said he will have more information in the next six to eight weeks to share with lawmakers before the start of the legislative session in February.