The Senate Monday moved to tighten Connecticut’s regulated cannabis marketplace, banning the sale of synthetic THC and high-potency products that are currently sold by unlicensed retailers.
The bill also seeks to limit how much THC can be included in a single container and require health and safety labeling.
Lawmakers from both parties said the bill is meant to limit the ability of minors to purchase certain THC products and to reduce the risk children mistake edibles for candy or other food.
The bill, which passed with a 32-4 vote, also easily passed through the House earlier this session. It now goes to Gov. Ned Lamont.
Sen. James Maroney, D-Milford, co-chair of the General Law Committee, said the ban on synthetic THC products addresses concerns about some products available at gas stations and other retailers.
Sen. Paul Cicarella, R-North Haven, said the legislation came after hearing from parents whose children purchased the products.
“It’s not safe. It’s not tested and there’s no way to address the concerns of the constituents when they’re calling” because the products were previously not regulated. Maroney later clarified that this bill also prohibits package stores from selling THC-infused drinks unless they have licenses to do so.
The bill also replaces federal rules that allow hemp-based products to be sold under what’s called a dry-weight basis with new THC limits.
Under the proposal, CBD stores would be restricted to selling edible products with no more than 1 milligram per serving and no more than 5 milligrams per package. Different THC limits would apply to tinctures and lotions but in each case, the new limits would fall well below products available in regulated dispensaries.
Additionally, the bill requires labeling that makes clear what’s inside. The language is in response to products whose names are based on candy, cereals and other snacks.
Even some Republicans who opposed the 2021 legalization of recreational marijuana supported the bill.
With the recreational marijuana market now operational, they said they wanted to make sure consumers are safe and educated.
“Now the hard reality begins about regulating it and making sure it’s rolled out to the public in a safe fashion,” said Sen. John Kissel, R-Enfield, one of eight Republicans to vote for the bill.
None of the four Republicans who voted against the bill spoke during the debate.
Another portion of the bill creates an Office of the Cannabis Ombudsman position for the medical marijuana community. Maroney said this would be a safeguard against Connecticut’s producers from shifting too much toward the recreational market, limiting supply for patients.
“We did have a thriving medical program and we want to make sure we maintain that program,” he said.
The bill also updates how the Social Equity Council determines which sections of the state have been disproportionately impacted by the war on drugs, ensuring those decisions are made based on more current census data.