HARTFORD, Conn. (Jan. 10, 2023) – Retail marijuana sales began today in Connecticut despite ongoing federal cannabis prohibition.
Gov. Ned Lamont signed a bill legalizing marijuana for adult use in Connecticut in June 2021. As of today, adults 21 and over can buy up to .25 ounces of cannabis flower or its equivalent per transaction at licensed hybrid retailers licensed for medical and recreational sales. State regulators say those limits “will be reviewed over time, and are in place to ensure businesses are able to maintain adequate supply for both adult-use consumers and medical marijuana patients.”
Medical marijuana patients can purchase up to five ounces per month.
Gov. Lamont also announced last month that the state would begin automatically clearing low-level marijuana records under the law’s expungement provisions.
In July 2023, it will become legal for adults to cultivate marijuana for personal use. Medical marijuana patients were allowed to grow cannabis at home as of Oct. 2021.
EFFECT ON FEDERAL PROHIBITION
Under the federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA) passed in 1970, the federal government maintains a complete prohibition of marijuana. Of course, the federal government lacks any constitutional authority to ban or regulate cannabis within the borders of a state, despite the opinion of the politically connected lawyers on the Supreme Court. If you doubt this, ask yourself why it took a constitutional amendment to institute federal alcohol prohibition.
Connecticut legalized medical marijuana in 2012 and removed one layer of laws punishing the possession and use of marijuana in the state, but federal prohibition remains in effect. Legalizing marijuana for adult use takes another major step and effectively ends state marijuana prohibition. This is significant because FBI statistics show that law enforcement makes approximately 99 of 100 marijuana arrests under state, not federal law. When states stop enforcing marijuana laws, they sweep away most of the basis for 99 percent of marijuana arrests.
Furthermore, figures indicate it would take 40 percent of the DEA’s yearly budget just to investigate and raid all of the dispensaries in Los Angeles – a single city in a single state. That doesn’t include the cost of prosecution. The lesson? The feds lack the resources to enforce marijuana prohibition without state assistance.
A GROWING MOVEMENT
Colorado, Washington state, Oregon and Alaska were the first states to legalize recreational cannabis, and California, Nevada, Maine and Massachusetts joined them after ballot initiatives in favor of legalization passed in November 2016. Michigan followed suit when voters legalized cannabis for general use in 2018. Vermont became the first state to legalize marijuana through a legislative act in 2018. Illinois followed suit in 2019. New Jersey, Montana and Arizona all legalized recreational marijuana through ballot measures in the 2020 election. In 2021, New York, New Mexico, Virginia and Connecticut legalized marijuana through legislative action, and Rhode Island legalized cannabis for adult use in 2022. With Missouri and Maryland legalizing marijuana in November, there are now 37 states allowing cannabis for medical use, and 21 legalizing for adult recreational use.
The lesson here is pretty straightforward. As Tenth Amendment Center Executive Director Michael Boldin noted, “When enough people say, ‘No!’ to the federal government, and enough states pass laws backing those people up, there’s not much the feds can do to shove their so-called laws, regulations, or mandates down our throats.”
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