/Connecticut just legalized marijuana. Here’s what happens next

Connecticut just legalized marijuana. Here’s what happens next

Congratulations, Connecticut!

The state Legislature approved a sweeping 300-page cannabis legalization and regulation bill on June 17, 2021. With Gov. Ned Lamont’s signature, the bill will become law and take effect on July 1, 2021. The full text of the new law is available here.

Here’s what happens next.

No. Possession of small amounts of cannabis becomes legal on July 1, 2021, at 12:01 a.m., but not a moment sooner. Don’t celebrate by sparking up in the streets—yet.

What can I do on July 1?

You can possess up to 1.5 ounces of cannabis flower legally, if you’re 21 or older. Note that “possess” in this sense means those 1.5 ounces are actually in your physical possession. Like, say, if you’re walking down the sidewalk.

Starting July 1, it’s also legal to possess up to five ounces of cannabis flower if those five ounces are stored in a locked container at your place of residence. It’s also legal to possess up to five ounces of flower if the cannabis is in a vehicle’s locked glove box, or in the trunk.

How much can I possess?

As mentioned above: 1.5 ounces on your person, and five ounces in a locked container at your place of residence.

How much can I purchase?

Well, you can’t buy anything legally until licensed retail stores open in 2022.

But when they do, retailers can’t sell more than one ounce per day (or the equivalent) to a single customer. Registered medical patients may purchase up to five ounces per day.

What are the limits on concentrates?

Good question. The legal 1.5 ounce limit on personal possession translates into 7.5 grams of cannabis concentrate, or any other cannabis products with up to 750mg of THC. (A typical package of cannabis edibles contains 100mg of THC.) The five ounce “locked container” limit translates into 25 grams of cannabis concentrate or any other cannabis products with up to 2,500mg of THC.

Can I grow my own?

Yes, starting on July 1.

Home growing will be limited to three mature plants plus three immature plants, for a total of six plants. No special license is needed to grow cannabis plants, within the specified limits, at home.

Who’s going to regulate the cannabis industry?

Connecticut’s Department of Consumer Protection (DCP), which manages the state’s medical marijuana program, will act as the state regulator of adult-use cannabis. DCP will issue licenses for all aspects of the legal industry.

How many stores will (eventually) open?

It’s unclear. The new law leaves that up to the Department of Consumer Protection.

Will stores sell clones to home growers?

No. The law allows only licensed cannabis farmers (also known as producers, or cultivators) to acquire or possess live cannabis plants. Private home growing is allowed, of course.

Any limits on THC dosage?

Yeah, a weird one: Licensed retailers are not allowed to sell cannabis flower with a total THC concentration greater than 30% on a dry-weight basis. This is strange because the biological limit for a cannabis plant is somewhere near 35%. And cannabis concentrates can contain upwards of 80% to 90% THC.

So…what’s the point of setting a THC limit for flower? As Leafly’s chief science officer, Nick Jikomes, has written: “You should almost never see a strain with more than 35% total THC by dry weight. Be skeptical if you do.”

How do I apply for a cannabis license?

You’ll need to be able to pass a criminal background check. Fortunately, a past small-time cannabis conviction won’t knock you out of the game.

There will be nine classes of licenses, ranging from retailer to cultivator to transporter.

The fee to apply for a license ranges from $250 to $1,000, which is quite reasonable compared to other states.

The final full fee for a license, should you win one in the scheduled license lottery, will range from $1,000 (for micro-cultivators) to $25,000 (for a retailer) to $75,000 (for a larger-scale grower).

Existing medical marijuana dispensaries will have to pay a steeper entry fee. The state will require a $1 million “conversion fee” to attach a recreational sale license to an existing medical dispensary license, and $3 million for a medical producer to grow for the recreational market.

What about limits on advertising?

Nothing unusual here, the just common requirement that cannabis ads only appear in media where there’s “reliable evidence” that at least 90% of the audience is 21 or older.

Also, advertising cannabis products or paraphernalia in any physical form visible to the public within 500 feet of an elementary or secondary school ground, recreation center or facility, child care center, playground, public park, or library, is prohibited.

What are penalties for underage possession?

Some youth-specific highlights of the new law include:

  • No arrests for possession for anyone under 18. 
  • No discrimination against students who use medical cannabis.
  • Schools must re-write their policies by Jan. 2022 to equalize cannabis penalties with alcohol.
  • Student athletes may not be penalized for failing a drug test for cannabis.
  • No financial aid penalty for possession under 4 ounces.

Any other odd quirks in the new law?

Here’s something:

The bill makes it a class C misdemeanor to provide cannabis to a domesticated animal, and prohibits licensed cannabis companies from manufacturing or selling cannabis products intended for consumption by animals.

Bruce Barcott's Bio Image

Bruce Barcott

Leafly Senior Editor Bruce Barcott oversees news, investigations, and feature projects. He is a Guggenheim Fellow and author of Weed the People: The Future of Legal Marijuana in America.

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