Possessing more than 14 grams of cannabis in Connecticut is a crime, punishable by up to 1 year in jail and a $2,000 fine. Distributing or cultivating any amount of cannabis in Connecticut is a felony, punishable by up to 7 years in prison and a $25,000 fine. The penalties increase as the amount of cannabis involved increases. Cannabis prohibition in Connecticut has a disproportionate impact on minority communities. An example of that would be in New Caanan, Connecticut where nearly half of all cannabis penalties are given to African Americans even though they make up only about 1 percent of the town’s population.

Cannabis prohibition has obviously failed in Connecticut, and the Uncle Cliffy team was hopeful that cannabis legalization would be included in Connecticut’s next budget. The Connecticut Coalition to Regulate Marijuana, which Clifford Robinson is a member of, has been pushing lawmakers for months to include legalization in its budget. Connecticut has been facing huge budget gaps, and while taxing and regulating cannabis would not fix all of Connecticut’s budget woes, it would certainly help. Unfortunately, Connecticut’s budget was approved this week without cannabis legalization provisions being included, as outlined in a message sent by Regulate Connecticut to its supporters this week:

On Tuesday, Governor Dannel Malloy signed into law a $41.3 billion, two-year state budget that increases taxes by approximately $1 billion over that period. That number could have been significantly reduced had the budget included taxing and regulating marijuana for adults’ use.

The budget also cuts municipal aid, higher education funding, social services, and tens of millions of dollars from energy conservation programs. According to the nonpartisan Office of Fiscal Analysis, when the subsequent governor and General Assembly begin drafting the next budget, they will be facing a deficit of approximately $4.6 billion unless a new source of revenue is created.

It is deeply disappointing that lawmakers missed this opportunity to enact commonsense marijuana policies that could have generated a new source of revenue, thereby saving the state money while creating new jobs and causing a major increase in tourism.

However, this conversation is not over in Connecticut. When lawmakers return in February, we will continue the fight to enact legalization in 2018. In the meantime, please keep talking to lawmakers about this issue, educate your friends and family, and stay tuned for other ways to help in the fight!

The University of Connecticut (UConn), where Clifford Robinson proudly went to college and is a member of the All-Century Men’s Basketball Team, now faces a budget cut of $134 million dollars over the course of the next two years. Legalization would generate over $360 million dollars for Connecticut according to recent estimates. Taxing and regulating cannabis in Connecticut literally has the potential to eliminate budget cuts at UConn and help fill in other budget gaps that other Connecticut institutions are now facing.

The Uncle Cliffy team will keep pushing for legalization in Connecticut, and urges you to do the same if you live there. A recent poll conducted by Sacred Heart University Institute for Public Policy found that ‘more than two out of three residents (70.6%) either “strongly support” or “somewhat support” legalizing and taxing marijuana’ in Connecticut. That level of support is up from 63% from just two years ago. Clearly the citizens of Connecticut want lawmakers to take a more sensible approach to cannabis policy. Connecticut lawmakers need to do what is right and free the plant.