Connecticut legalizes recreational marijuana for adults

Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont (D) on Tuesday signed legislation legalizing recreational marijuana for adults in the state, becoming the 18th U.S. state to legalize the drug.

Beginning July 1, recreational marijuana will be legal for all adults aged 21 and older, according to a press release from the governor's office. Adults will be permitted to carry up to one and a half ounces on their person and to keep five ounces secured in a home or vehicle.

"People have been working on this for 10 years. It’s been a long time coming. I think we have a good bill that puts public health first," the Connecticut governor said when signing the bill, NBC Connecticut reported.

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Lamont had threatened to veto an earlier version of the bill, saying it did not address the inequity brought on by the war on drugs. Lamont's office took issue with a provision that gave people with prior marijuana convictions preference when applying for licenses to grow and sell marijuana, arguing that it would have applied to wealthier people as well as the lower-income and minority groups for whom the provision was intended.

The provision was ultimately dropped last week, paving the way for the bill to clear the state legislature and head to Lamont's desk to be signed.

The bill that Lamont signed also expunges most marijuana convictions that occurred between Jan. 1, 2000, and Oct. 1, 2015.

Connecticut is now the sixth state where marijuana was legalized through the legislature instead of a ballot measure.

“State lawmakers are to be commended for enacting model legislation that will move Connecticut forward,” Paul Armentano, deputy director for the marijuana legalization advocacy group NORML said in a statement.

“This legislation recognizes that the responsible use of marijuana by adults should not be a crime, and that those who carry the stigma of a criminal record for their past use of cannabis should receive relief," Armentano, a Connecticut-native said. "Regulating cannabis, rather than criminalizing it, has proven to be a superior public policy — which is why more and more states are rapidly moving in this direction.”