Mass. marijuana law changes “tone” at Conn. Capitol

File - In this April 20, 2016 file photo, customers buy products at the Harvest Medical Marijuana Dispensary in San Francisco. California's lopsided U.S. Senate is nearing a historic end and voters are pondering a long list of ballot questions that could legalize marijuana, end the death penalty and slap cigarette smokers with a $2-a-pack tax increase. (AP Photo/Haven Daley, File)

HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — As of Thursday, it is now legal in Massachusetts to possess and use and grow marijuana in your home. A Connecticut lawmaker that has been pushing for this here says now is a golden opportunity for the Nutmeg State.

Connecticut has four licensed medical marijuana growing facilities and eight licensed dispensaries. Their robust business in medical marijuana products could explode if a recreational marijuana law comes to Connecticut.

New Haven Democratic State Rep. Juan Candelaria has attempted to introduce a recreational marijuana law here for the past two years, but never even got a public hearing.

“The tone has changed since Massachusetts have passed their referendum,” said Candelaria. “So I think it is an opportunity (for) Connecticut to move forward with this legislation.”

While it is now legal to purchase and use marijuana in Massachusetts, it won’t be legal to sell it for another twelve months.

“If we really want to tackle the issue I think we can have legalization ready to go by the end of the fiscal year,” said Candelaria.

And the end of this fiscal year is when the state is in serious need of a serious influx of cash. One estimate says recreational marijuana could raise $50 million in tax revenue the first year.

While not saying he would veto a recreational marijuana bill, Governor Malloy says he thinks Connecticut has gone far enough.

“Going from decriminalization and recognizing the medical benefits of marijuana to, in essence, endorse marijuana is a very different proposition and I don’t endorse the use of marijuana,” said Malloy.

Malloy also thinks the revenue estimates are faulty as well, noting that the Massachusetts tax rate will be low and in order to be competitive, Connecticut’s rate would also have to be low.

“I suspect that the money that will be generated in Massachusetts will not pay for the programs necessary to treat the people who will become problematic,” said Malloy.

Candelaria says that incoming Connecticut Speaker of the House Joe Aresimowicz has assured him the proposal will get a full public hearing in the new legislative session that starts next month and a spokesman for the new Speaker Joe Aresimowicz says that is accurate.

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