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Rep. Petit Votes ‘No’ on Marijuana Bill, Cites Effects on Brain Development

Posted on June 17, 2021


HARTFORD – During Wednesday’s Special Session of the House of Representatives, State Representative William A. Petit Jr. (R-22), who also serves as the Ranking Member of the Public Health Committee voted against a proposal to legalize marijuana for purchase and personal use due to various public health concerns he had with the bill as written.

“As this bill impacts public health, I would have thought myself and other members of the Public Health Committee would have had an opportunity to weigh in on something as important as the legalization of marijuana,” Rep. Petit said. “Studies have shown that THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana has a much higher percentage than it ever had before. It used to be 3 to 5 percent range and now it can be in excess of ten percent, sometimes as high as thirty. The brain development of individuals who have consistent exposure under the age of 25 show many have significantly lower executive function, memory, and IQ than those who aren’t exposed to it.”

The bill, SB-1201, An Act Concerning Responsible and Equitable Regulation of Adult-Use Cannabis, beyond attempting to try and regulate the sale of marijuana would also create a Social Equity Council to govern who can apply for licenses. This board would provide expedited or priority license processing for those who qualify as social equity applicants while also establishing a minimum criterion for establishments who are not owned by a social equity applicant to comply with an approved workforce development plan.

Republicans offered five amendments to improve the bill, unfortunately all failed to garner enough bipartisan support.

The marijuana bill was expected to be debated during the final night of the 2021 legislative session but was ultimately scrapped when Republicans uncovered a provision in the bill to provide preferential treatment for Theraplant, an LLC with ties to various Democrat lawmakers to obtain a cultivation license bypassing the lottery process entirely. Ultimately the bill never made the House floor due to Democrats believing Republicans would ultimately filibuster any subsequent debate until the House convened at midnight on June 9.

Late Wednesday night, the House voted in favor of the bill by a 76-62 margin. Due to the House amending the bill, the change will now force the Senate to vote on the bill again.