After two failed attempts, Governor Ned Lamont signed Senate Law 1201 to legalize Connecticut’s cannabis use for adults over the age of 21 with the ability to limit the number and locations of cannabis retailers through zoning ordinances. Below are some of the highlights of Senate Act 1201.

Possession: Starting July 1, 2021, Connecticut adults over 21 can have up to 1.5 ounces of cannabis on their bodies and up to 5 ounces in their home or vehicle glove compartment.

Retail sales: The sale, manufacture, and cultivation of cannabis (other than home growing) require a license from the State of Connecticut. Unlicensed individuals can gift cannabis to others, but are not allowed to sell it. Non-licensees may not gift cannabis to retailers who buy or donate non-cannabis products. Products containing Delta-8-THC, Delta-9-THC, or Delta-10-THC are considered cannabis and may only be sold by licensed dealers.

Self-cultivation: Starting October 1, 2021, Connecticut Medical Marijuana Program participants will be allowed to grow up to six cannabis plants indoors and at home. After July 1, 2023, all other adults over the age of 21 can also grow the same number of plants in their homes.

Previous penalties: Convictions for a selected number of marijuana offenses committed between January 1, 2000 and October 1, 2015 will be automatically deleted or deleted. Convictions for these offenses that occurred outside of the prescribed period can be deleted after the application has been submitted.

Community reinvestment: Senate Act 1201 reserves at least half of all initial licenses for applicants for social justice and is specifically aimed at applicants from communities disproportionately affected by the war on drugs. In addition, the bill creates the Social Equity Council, a group that will launch programs and support for applicants for social justice in the cannabis market. The bill also provides for the establishment of a Social Justice and Innovation Fund that redistributes portions of the proceeds from retail cannabis sales to communities negatively affected by strict marijuana policies. The Social Justice Council will use this fund to provide business capital, labor training and technical assistance to business start-ups and operations, and to invest in local communities. The bill also creates the Prevention and Recreational Services Fund, which will use portions of retail cannabis revenues to aid drug abuse prevention, treatment, and recovery. The Connecticut health authorities will also be launching new programs to prevent and treat this cannabis abuse.

Taxes: The bill’s tax rate structure includes a 3% municipal sales tax payable to the city or town where the retail sale took place, a state sales tax of 6.35%, and a tax based on the THC content of the product: 2.75 Cents per milligram of THC for cannabis edibles; 0.625 cents per milligram of THC for cannabis flowers; and 0.9 cents per milligram of THC for all other product types.

Employment: This law does not limit an employer’s ability to enforce a drug-free workplace and allows employers to continue to put in place policies that prohibit the use of cannabis outside of work. However, an employer must not take adverse action against an employee or potential employee who uses cannabis before applying for or working for such an employer or if there are no employment guidelines prohibiting its use. The bill exempts employers in certain industries such as manufacturing and healthcare from the provisions of this law.

Product safety and advertising: Cannabis products must be tested in the laboratory and sold in child-resistant packaging. Edible cannabis products must be limited to 5 milligrams of THC or less per serving, and other products are tied to a potency cap. In addition, product types that appeal to children are prohibited. Advertising of cannabis products via television, radio, internet, print media and posters is not permitted unless the advertiser has reliable evidence that more than 90% of the consumers reached by the advertisement are at least 21 years old. Advertising within 150 meters of a school is strictly prohibited.

Public safety: The bill criminalizes the sale of cannabis products to anyone under the age of 21 and prohibits cannabis use in state parks, state beaches, and state waters.

While adult possession of cannabis will become legal for adults in Connecticut on July 1, 2021, retail cannabis sales will not begin until late 2022. Companies can use this time to obtain licenses to sell, manufacture, and grow cannabis in Connecticut. Bressler’s lawyers have extensive experience assisting cannabis companies with regulatory and other legal compliance matters. We look forward to working with customers in Connecticut during this historic change. For more information or assistance, please contact us.

[1] The author thanks Legal Trainee Jeffrey Meehan for his assistance in creating this customer alert.