HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Fourth Legislative Committee Holds Recreational Pot Hearing
Pubdate: Mon, 02 Apr 2018
Source: Hartford Courant (CT)
Copyright: 2018 The Hartford Courant
Contact: http://drugsense.org/url/IpIfHam4
Website: http://www.courant.com/
Details: http://www.mapinc.org/media/183
Author: Sandra Gomez-Aceves

FOURTH LEGISLATIVE COMMITTEE HOLDS RECREATIONAL POT HEARING; BILL

FOCUSES ON TAXATION

On Monday, the finance, revenue and bonding committee became the
fourth panel to hold a public hearing on recreational marijuana this
legislative session. This time, on a bill that focuses on the taxation
of marijuana and marijuana products sold in the state should they be
legalized.

The bill, H.B. 5582, would allow Connecticut to tax marijuana and
marijuana products on and after the date marijuana is legalized,
though this year legalization is unlikely as one key committee has
already rejected the measure and another will not be voting on the
measure.

The bill doesn't specify the tax rate consumers would have to pay when
purchasing recreational marijuana but instead proposes that should
legalization occur, the "marijuana wholesaler" would be taxed at a
rate of 13.65 percent.

The bill defines a marijuana wholesaler as a person licensed to
purchase marijuana from a marijuana cultivation or marijuana product
manufacturing facility who would then sell it to a marijuana lounge or
marijuana retailer for the use of a consumer.

"Although I do not want cannabis taxed because I feel it's our human
right to grow our own medicine," said Cody Roberts, 26, of Seymour,
who also has testified at three other recreational marijuana hearings,
"Connecticut is [experiencing] a huge deficit right now and I do not
see a cannabis bill being passed in favor of people 21 years or older
or to grow the medicine or purchase their medicine without some sort
of tax revenue involved."

The Office of Fiscal Analysis has reported estimated revenues of $30.1
million under the Massachusetts marijuana taxation model and $63.9
million under the Colorado model, where a higher tax rate is applied.
Both estimates are for the first full year of the program.

Tonya Stone, a resident of Chaplin, wrote to the committee in favor of
the legislation. She wrote she's heard the argument that legalization
would affect children and she made the argument that it would -- in a
positive way.

"'What about the children?' We can serve them better through
legalization," Stone wrote. "This revenue can go back to help out
struggling school systems, fix our roads, fund programs for seniors
and our other vulnerable populations, support community health
initiatives among other areas our state is failing its residents
because insurance, hockey and manufacturing has fled."

The bill also faced opposition, as other recreational marijuana bills
have in each of the other committees.

"Hopefully the members of the finance revenue and bonding committee
are willing to consider the dark side of marijuana. You are faced with
a critically important policy decision," said Bo Huhn, spokesperson of
CT Smart Approaches to Marijuana(SAM). "In view of the addiction
problems of our society, the last thing Connecticut needs is more
substance abuse and more addiction."

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy listed legalization among a series of options on
his budget proposal, which drew some speculation that he'd support
legalization, but the governor has said he remains opposed.

In July, marijuana will be available for adult purchase in
Massachusetts and the debate in Connecticut has heated up since
Massachusetts voters approved a ballot question on the matter.

Four different committees took on different parts of the recreational
marijuana legislation this legislative session -- one looked at the
legalization, the second looked at the regulatory process, the third
included a bill that provided substance abuse treatment and offered
prevention programs.

The general law committee, the first to hold a public hearing on the
measure, and the one considered to have the best chance of passing a
legal marijuana bill out of a legislative committee for consideration
of the General Assembly, has already rejected the bill 11-6 with
bipartisan opposition.

The judiciary committee, which has a Wednesday voting deadline, did
not include their recreational marijuana bill on their agenda for a
vote.

No Connecticut legislative committee has ever voted in favor of
legalization, and the matter has failed during the past two years
without any formal votes.
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