A conversation in the Connecticut Senate committee hearing on Monday turned from the allocation of cannabis tax revenue to anti-cannabis prohibitionists urging lawmakers to reconsider their stance on cannabis.
Senate Bill 1138 was discussed in a public hearing held by the Senate Finance Revenue and Bonding Committee. If passed, the bill will establish a new Community Development Corporation Trust Fund, which would be funded using revenue from three different state cannabis taxes. The Fund aims to provide under-served communities with programs, including an early literacy education program.
Support for the bill came in part from The Interim Executive Director of the Commission on Women, Children and Seniors, Steven Hernandez. Hernandez’s organization is the Connecticut General Assembly’s non-biased research division, which supports legislation and developments that will benefit under-served communities. “We can’t be afraid of allowing people who are chronically poor and intergenerationally poor to be part of the conversation about building wealth,” he said at the meeting.
If approved, SB-1138 would create a retail tax on cannabis at 6.35 percent. When cannabis is transferred from growers to retailers it would be subject to an additional tax of $35 per ounce of flower and $13.50 per ounce of trim. Local governments that allow cannabis retail sales would add a three percent tax.
The anti-cannabis legalization group also present at the meeting was Smart Approaches to Marijuana. The whole discussion began with the opposition, with Susan Klein delivering a testimony about her husband, who was killed in 2015 by a driver under the influence of cannabis. “To then have the doctor come in and tell me my husband was dead and then to find out this young 18-year-old was driving high? I can’t even say I’m functioning yet,” Klein said while crying.
Connecticut’s General Assembly is currently considering three different cannabis-related bills, one of which is SB-1138. The other two are Senate Bill 1085 and House Bill 7371, which would effectively legalize cannabis while expunging past cannabis convictions from records and establish a Cannabis Commission with an equity program, respectively.