Connecticut governor signs bill making it 19th state to legalise recreational marijuana

Connecticut governor signs bill making it 19th state to legalise recreational marijuana
The legalisation aims to address issues of racial inequality in drug policing

Connecticut has become the 19th state to legalise recreational use of marijuana.

Governor Ned Lamont signed a bill into law Tuesday, which will allow people people aged 21 and older to possess and consume marijuana beginning on 1 July.

The law will provide the foundation for the cannabis industry to set up shop in the state and also will try to address racial inequality resulting from the policing of marijuana in the US.

Qualifying residents of the state will be allowed to consume up to 1.5 ounces (42.5g) of “cannabis plant material” and up to 5 ounces (141.7g) in a locked container in their home or the trunk or glove box of their vehicle.

Mr Lamont, a Democrat, discussed the bill during the signing ceremony on Tuesday.

“We had a chance to learn from others, and I think we’ve got it right here in the state of Connecticut,” he said. “Maybe we weren’t the first but we were the first, I think, to show that we can get it right.”

ABC News reported that the bill was approved by both chambers of the state’s General Assembly last week during a special session.

Democratic House Majority Leader Jason Rojas said be believed it would be the “most comprehensive and best cannabis legalisation bill in the country.”

“History will tell us if that’s true or not, but I feel confident in saying yes, right now, this is the best bill in the country and it’s going to move us in a direction of ensuring that we provide a well-regulated marketplace for adult-use cannabis for adults who want to participate in that kind of activity,” he said.

While the new law goes into effect next month, retail sales of cannabis are not expected in the state until next summer at the earliest.

The legislation also allocates 50 per cent of licenses for applicants coming from non-white communities which have been “disproportionately impacted” by drug policing and high unemployment. Further, up to 75 per cent of revenue will be directed toward community reinvestment and “equity efforts.”

Both the Republicans in the state’s General Assembly and the Connecticut Medical Society opposed the bill.

The medical organisation opposed the bill on the grounds that it would have a negative effect on the state’s youth.

“Physicians base our opinions on science, data from peer-reviewed writings, observation and patient interaction – which is why we believe the recreational use of marijuana is bad science, bad policy, and dangerous to Connecticut’s public health,” Dr Gregory Shangold, the organisation’s president, said.