States to Watch in 2021: Connecticut

In advance of the 2021 legislative sessions, NORML will be providing a more detailed break down of legislative efforts in various states across the nation that are poised to enact significant marijuana reforms next year. This is the first in a series of blogs examining where state-specific reform efforts stand.

With Democrats now holding nearly two-to-one majorities in both chambers, the incoming House Speaker has publicly estimated the chances of lawmakers legalizing adult use marijuana in 2021 at “50-50.” 

Most recently, Speaker Ritter committed to having lawmakers place the issue before voters as a ballot referendum should legislators fail to pass legislation next year.  He said: “[I]f we do not have the votes, and I’m not raising the white flag, I want to be very clear: We will put something on the board to put to the voters of the state of Connecticut to amend the state constitution to legalize marijuana.”

Lawmakers have previously debated adult-use legalization measures in prior sessions, and Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont has recently promoted the issue, acknowledging: “Right now, [Connecticut is] surrounded by states — New Jersey and Massachusetts — where marijuana is already legal. I don’t need a lot of people driving back and forth across the border. We’re trying to keep people close to home as best we can right now. I think legalizing marijuana — doing that safely and making sure that no poison is laced in — I think is one to keep people closer to home.” He also said previously that reform in the state is “inevitable.”

Connecticut lawmakers introduced marijuana legalization legislation early in 2020, a proposal backed by Gov. Lamont and other high-ranking state officials. The measure received consideration by a key legislative committee, but never advanced.

Connecticut’s legislative session begins on 1/6/21. Lawmakers can pre-file legislation until 12/29/20.

According to statewide polling data, 63 percent of Connecticut residents support ending marijuana prohibition in the state.