Connecticut Clears Nearly 43K Cannabis Convictions

The move fulfills provisions in Connecticut legislation to legalize adult-use cannabis.

On New Year’s Day, Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont announced that 42,964 cannabis convictions were processed to be erased. That number was fielded a month ago in Gov. Lamont’s initial announcement on Dec. 8, 2022.

The governor expressed how prior cannabis convictions shouldn’t be a detriment to a person’s chance at employment and other opportunities.

“As of this morning, our administration has marked 42,964 cannabis convictions erased, as planned,” Gov. Lamont tweeted. “It’s one step forward in ending the War on Drugs and giving our citizens a second chance to achieve their dreams.”

Many different reactions followed, mostly positive, with one Twitter user criticizing the governor as being “weak on crime.”

The move fulfills provisions included in legislation that the governor signed over a year ago. Gov. Lamont signed Senate Bill 1201 on June 22, 2021. That effectively made Connecticut the 19th state to legalize the adult use of cannabis. 

A proposal to legalize adult-use cannabis was initially put forward by the governor to the General Assembly as Senate Bill 888. He also proposed similar legislation in February 2020 as Senate Bill 16.

Connecticut residents with additional minor convictions on their records will be able to petition courts to seal their records under separate legislation. “Convictions for violations of … possession of less than or equal to four ounces of a cannabis-type substance imposed before January 1, 2000, and between October 1, 2015, and June 30, 2021,” the governor’s office said. “Convictions for violations of … possession with intent to use drug paraphernalia for cannabis imposed before July 1, 2021; [and] Convictions for violations … imposed before July 1, 2021, for manufacturing, selling, possessing with intent to sell, or giving or administering to another person a cannabis-type substance and the amount involved was under four ounces or six plants grown inside a person’s home for personal use.”

These types of convictions should not impact an individual’s ability to gain a job, the governor said last month.

“On Jan. 1, thousands of low-level cannabis convictions in Connecticut will be automatically erased due legislation we’ve enacted,” Gov. Lamont tweeted last month. “Especially as employers seek to fill job openings, an old conviction for low-level possession should not hold someone back from their aspirations.”

President Joe Biden also issued some additional pardons on Friday, including a few people with cannabis or other drug convictions. 

Connecticut Sales Begin

The Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection (DCP) announced that medical cannabis dispensaries that obtained a hybrid license can start selling adult-use cannabis as early as 10 am ET on January 10 next week.

“For decades, the war on cannabis caused injustices and created disparities while doing little to protect public health and safety,” Lamont said in a press release. “The law that I signed today begins to right some of those wrongs by creating a comprehensive framework for a regulated market that prioritizes public health, public safety, criminal justice and equity. It will help eliminate the dangerous, unregulated market and support a new and equitable sector of our economy that will create jobs.”

State officials said that they received over 15,000 applications for dispensary licenses prior to the deadline set in May 2022.

As in other states and cities that have legalized cannabis, Connecticut’s new law contained a significant social justice component, with provisions to award the first retail licenses to individuals from areas most adversely affected by long standing drug policies, and to clear the records of those with certain marijuana-related convictions.  

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