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Candelora Votes for Bill to Prevent Sales of THC-Infused Beverages to Kids

Posted on May 2, 2024

HARTFORD — House Republican Vincent Candelora this week supported legislation that would prohibit THC-infused beverages from being sold in convenience and grocery stores, where they’re currently available for purchase by children.

The legislation (H.B. 5150) also makes it easier for municipal officials to initiate legal action on establishments that sell marijuana products illegally while also dedicating more money to the Department of Consumer Protection and the Attorney General for enforcement statewide.

“I made no secret of my opposition to the creation of the commercial marijuana market in 2021, and since then the legislature has spent considerable time and energy fixing loopholes and problems created by that quick-pitch legislation, trying to keep our laws and regulations at pace in a landscape with constantly evolving products,” Candelora said. “This bill age-gates these THC beverages to 21 by limiting their sale to inside dispensaries and package stores. This is good news for parents, who often feel like they’re fighting a losing battle trying to keep dangerous products out of the hands of their kids.”

The bill, which passed through the House of Representative in a 130-16 vote, allows municipal CEOs to seek help from the superior court when they determine that a cannabis business is operating in violation of state regulations or poses an immediate threat to public health and safety. The court, under the bill, could seize the merchandise related to the violations or public health concerns.

“As it stands right now, a local municipal official would have to seek help from three or four different entities to go after a bad actor in the retail cannabis marketplace, and even then, there’s no guarantee that those agencies would either agree there’s an issue or raise their hand to lead pursuit of a solution,” Candelora said. “By allowing the town to go right to the court, this legislation streamlines the process and ensures problems get the attention that municipal officials and citizens believe they deserve.”

Since voting against the original bill approving retail sales of marijuana in 2021, Candelora has been a leading voice for injecting stronger safety measures into the marketplace. Last year, he successfully lobbied for stronger product packaging requirements. He’s also been a critic of state law that allows people to get high while driving as well as policy that allows a driver to smoke marijuana with children in the car. Earlier this week, Candelora offered amendments to allow police to pull over drivers in those examples. Majority party Democrats rejected them.

The bill approved Tuesday night, H.B. 5150, An Act Concerning Cannabis and Hemp Regulation, heads to the State Senate for action before the legislative session ends May 8.