Gov. Ned Lamont, quick to announce his support for a bill legalizing recreational pot for adults after it won final legislative approval Thursday, intends to sign the bill into law in the coming days.
Lamont’s office had not released details as of Friday afternoon about whether the bill signing will be marked with a public event or happen quietly at the Capitol. Either way, ceremonial joints will not be handed out, as legalization will take effect July 1 and public buildings are smoke-free.
The governor was in Fairfield County Friday, first in Norwalk to highlight a new summer program for children at the Maritime Aquarium then in Wilton to celebrate Weir Farm’s new designation as a National Historic Park, before going home to Greenwich for the weekend.
The Senate gave final passage to marijuana legalization Thursday, voting for a third time, on the 50th anniversary of President Richard Nixon declaring the war on drugs.
The governor, who made it a campaign promise in 2018 to legalize adult-use cannabis, announced within minutes of the Senate vote that he looked forward to signing the bill “and moving beyond this terrible period of incarceration and injustice.”
Lamont’s signature will come after months of intense scrutiny and debate on the bill, which received just one Republican vote, and not on the last version, as that lawmaker, Sen. Kevin Wikos, R-Canton, was absent for the Senate’s final tally.
“Obviously this bill has been heavily negotiated from February to now. I think all parties involved at this point are satisfied with the outcome. We look forward to a bill signing next week and the end of prohibition July 1,” Rep. Steve Stafstrom, D-Bridgeport, said Friday.
Stafstrom and fellow co-chairman of the legislative Judiciary Committee, Sen. Gary Winfield, D-New Haven, were two of the bill’s main advocates.
As to whether Stafstrom expects a high-profile bill signing, he said Lamont proposed the original bill. “Normally on a governor’s bill there will be pomp and circumstance.”
House Majority Leader Jason Rojas, another champion of the bill, said he expected a “ceremonial” bill signing early next week, but exact plans will be finalized by the governor’s office.
“It’ll be a moment to mark a lot of hard work on the part of a lot people on an important bill this session that had lots of interest from lots of people of all walks of life inside and outside the Capitol building,” Rojas, D-East Hartford, said Friday.
The new law will take effect in phases, starting on July 1, when it will be legal for adults over 21 to have an ounce-and-a-half of marijuana, plus another five ounces in a locked container. Retail sales in Connecticut could begin as soon as the spring of 2022.
National marijuana advocates have called the legislation a model for the country given its focus on providing business opportunities in the industry to those most affected by drug enforcement policies.