Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont's Updated Adult-Use Legalization Bill (SB.888) Includes Potential Felony Penalties For Outdoor Homegrow Under 6 Plants, But Also Sets Aside 40% Of Licenses For Equity Applicants

First published: 1:50 PM Eastern Daylight Time


Photo; SB. 888


The Governor of Connecticut, Ned Lamont, has updated his adult use legalization proposal following weeks of sustained criticism from local advocates. However, instead of legalizing homegrow as advocates had demanded, the Governor has proposed making an indoor grow of up to six plants a $500 fine (for a first offense) while an outdoor grow of up to 6 plants would still be a criminal offense (a misdemeanor for first offense and, shockingly, a felony for a second offense).

The bill was discussed (and is expected to pass) at a
Judiciary Committee Hearing today, and is not yet final; further discussions will no doubt occur as dueling proposals related to the legalization of adult use in Connecticut continue to make their way through the State House. That said, the updated language is the latest look into the Executive Office's view of the evolving legalization debate that has intensified, to much public fanfare, over the past few months.

Retaining criminal penalties, in particular potential felonies, for small homegrows is not the kind of progress that advocates were expecting after a competing adult use legalization proposal, HB. 6377, passed out of Committee last month with 6 plant homegrow legalized entirely.

In light of the homegrow rules that exist in neighboring states, including up to 12 plants per home in Massachusetts and similar amounts in other states, the proposal to retain harsh criminal penalties for small personal use homegrows today left some perplexed.

Some positives did arise from the Governor's updated bill, however, as a new section of the legislation (Section 35) would set aside 40% of the state's adult use licenses for social equity companies while, at the same time, creating a new "social equity lottery" for companies seeking to open adult use operations.

Prior wording related to that lottery, in the Governor's proposal, included no equity provisions of any kind and thus that change is a big win for advocates.

For that step forward in the Lamont's bill, as seems to be a pattern, there was also a step backwards; a section of the law (Section 45) remains, exempting existing medical cannabis operators in the state -- including some companies worth upwards of 11 billion USD -- from having to enter into the lottery to begin with.

Such a system would, some suggest, inevitably result in those large medical operators quickly coming to dominate the emerging adult use sector in Connecticut. Such an exemption from the adult use license lottery for existing medical operators has lead to accusations of regulatory capture in some prior public hearings on the proposed legislation.

Read those two sections of the bill below and find a link to the full text of the proposed legislation after the page break...

Interestingly, another section of the proposed bill (section 40) also establishes a maximum cap of 2 total licenses for any single entity until at least June of 2025.