HARTFORD, CT – Gov. Ned Lamont received a B- for his positions on cannabis policy, according to a new report released by a group advocating for legalization of the substance.
The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) recently released its “2020 Gubernatorial Scorecard,” a scorecard that assigned grades from “A” through “F” to states’ governors based upon their comments and voting records in 2019 specific to matters on legalizing marijuana.
In a press release about the report, NORML said that most legislative activity specific to marijuana policy takes place at the state level, and nobody has more influence than a governor.
“These 50 lawmakers play a key role in whether or not marijuana policy reform advances at the state level so it is vitally important that reformers are aware of where they stand on the issue,” NORML said.
NORML gave Lamont a B- for meeting with governors of neighboring states “to discuss the possibility of taking a regional approach to the issue in 2020.”
Last week, Lamont told reporters that he’s letting the legislature take the lead on the issue.
“Look the legislature is taking the lead on this,” Lamont said last Thursday following an unrelated event.
Lamont is in close contact with New York, Rhode Island and Massachusetts, which has already legalized it.
“It does seem to me crazy that Connecticut’s going to be the small outlier giving that market over to the black market or sending people out of state,” Lamont said,
Overall, NORML gave 32 governors a passing grade of C or higher (22 Democrats, 10 Republicans. That’s an increase of five more getting a passing grade than on last year’s report card.
Nine governors — all Democrats — received an A grade; 12 received a B, 11 received a C, 10 got a D, and eight — all Republicans, got an F.
The Connecticut chapter of NORML has been a constant presence at the state Capitol the past few years, holding rallies and flocking to myriad public hearings held on bills proposing recreational marijuana legalization.
An example of a governor who is charting the right course, according to NORML, is Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker, a Democrat who NORML noted last year signed into a law a bill that regulates the production, use and retail sale of cannabis by adults.
The Illinois law also facilitates the automatic expungement of low-level marijuana convictions, decriminalizes home cultivation by adults and legalizes personal cultivation for qualified patients.
For that, NORML gave Pritzker an A+ on his report card.
On the other end, there were some F grades picked up by Republican governors, such as Mike DeWine of Ohio.
NORML said DeWine’s repeated assertion that it would be a mistake to legalize simply because other states are jumping on board is the reason he deserves a flunking grade.
NORML said that the big takeaway is that while support among governors for marijuana policy reform continues to grow, “this support is more partisan than ever before.”
“No Republicans are on record in support of adult-use legalization and few are in favor of regulating medical cannabis access,” NORML said. “By contrast, a large percentage of Democrats are supportive of both issues. This partisan divide is not similarly reflected among the general public.”
Back in Connecticut, the three different bills to legalize, regulate, and tax cannabis passed out of committee last year, but none of them received a vote in the House or the Senate.
Proponents of recreational marijuana have repeatedly tried to push their cause over the past few years by referring to different polls that show the majority of the public is in favor of legalizing marijuana and that Connecticut is allowing other neighboring states that have legalized pot to rake in millions in tax revenue.
But those arguments haven’t been successful in convincing moderate Democrat legislators and any single Republican legislator to jump over to the legalization side.