Rep. Zawistowski, House Republicans Unveil Session Priorities for Cannabis Safety

Posted on January 24, 2023


HARTFORD— State Rep. Tami Zawistowski (R-61) House Republicans on Tuesday unveiled caucus proposals aimed at creating a safer environment surrounding the recreational use and retail sale of cannabis.

“When it comes to our state’s fledgling cannabis marketplace, the umbrella message emanating from the Governor’s office is, unfortunately, one of shining positivity that in our opinion is at odds with the concerns of not just many residents, but also state mental health and addiction professionals who spend a lot of energy warning us all—and children in particular—about the drug’s dangers,” said Rep. Vincent Candelora (R-86), House Republican Leader. “I urge my colleagues who have been so enthusiastic about retail cannabis to refocus their energy and prioritize an effort to make changes to our regulatory landscape for the benefit of our state.”

The proposals from House Republicans cover a wide-ranging set of issues, from student driving education and labeling to sales of cannabis products at gas stations and safer packaging.

“Now that cannabis is here and commercialized in Connecticut, we have a duty to make certain the retail market is safe and employees have the necessary training of the products they sell,” said Rep. David Rutigliano (R-123), Ranking Member of the General Law Committee. “Priority number one is to protect children from predatory marketing. The best retail market system is one that works jointly with law enforcement to identify the good actors from the bad.”

The bill from House Republicans, H.B. 5434, will be subject of a General Law Committee public hearing.

“Connecticut’s haphazard rollout of its recreational marijuana program has shined a light on the shortfalls of the initial legislation, the lack of planning and foresight involved, and a revealing of dangers which House Republicans warned about during debate in 2021,” Rep Zawistowski (R-61) said. “The well-documented negative effects of commercialized cannabis on children and families, who suffer disproportionate rates of overdose and serious illness, is cause enough to reevaluate our priorities on how this becomes an institution in our state. Our priorities will be protecting our most vulnerable, giving law enforcement the tools needed to moderate this, and strengthen the educational component which is ultimately necessary for patrons.”

The bill from House Republicans proposes the following:

  • Establishes a cap on the amount of THC present in a single serving and requires the disclosure of the concentration of THC present in each serving and a description of its potency
  • Requires a label to be placed on the package of each consumer product stating cannabis use may be addictive, lead to birth defects, or cause psychosis

Continued, House Republican proposals on cannabis safety:

  • Restricts licensed gasoline dealers from selling any product containing any form of THC
  • Requires each cannabis retailer employ a certified budtender and that such budtender be present at such retailer during operating hours
  • Prohibits cannabis consumption in locations where alcohol consumption is prohibited
  • Repeals certain restrictions on cannabis-related stops and searches on persons and motor vehicles
  • Specifies that “imminent risk of serious harm” includes a situation where a parent or guardian is visibly under the influence of cannabis and attempting to pick up and leave with their child from a school or day care
  • Prohibits the sale of edible cannabis products
  • Requires that cannabis products be sold in child-proof containers

Requires the Department of Consumer Protection to:

  • Review and approve each cannabis product type and its dosage
  • Review cannabis tracking procedures in retail establishments and pharmacies
  • Designate retail cannabis as a schedule II-controlled substance
  • Specify that secondhand cannabis smoke is toxic to human health

House Republicans urge members of the public to share their thoughts about H.B. 5434 when it is scheduled by the General Law Committee. For more information on how to testify, visit the committee’s web site at