Lawmakers and Gov. Ned Lamont are negotiating a bill that would legalize cannabis, but in order to do that, they will need to figure out a way forward that’s equitable for communities impacted for decades by the war on drugs.
“You’re not going have an equity situation where you own everything and I work for you for $15 an hour. No, that’s not going to happen,” Sen. Doug McCrory, D-Hartford, said.
McCrory says there is no cannabis legalization without equity.
“You come with me with millions of dollars and you want to get into this game. And put my people out of the game that we risked our livelihoods, we went to jail for because we didn’t have any other resources or opportunities to provide for our families and now you want to change the game and take over it. No, that’s not going to fly for me,” McCrory said.
Sen. Gary Winfield is working on bringing together the various parties to find a solution that gets enough votes to pass.
“There will be no bill if there’s no equity,” Winfield said.
Winfield and members of the Black and Puerto Rican Caucus signaled that they won’t support the bill unless the equity provisions are included.
“I would urge everybody to hold their fire. Let’s take a look at what the agenda is and don’t necessarily hold the cannabis bill hostage to any one item,” Lamont said.
Lamont has his own expectations and his own legislation.
“If you get a bill that doesn’t meet some basic requirements, you’ll put it off another year just like they have for many years in the past. You can’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good,” Lamont said.
“There will be no cannabis legalization in this state without equity defined,” Winfield said.
Advocates who gathered outside the Legislative Office Building on Tuesday are supporting a separate bill passed by the labor committee.
“This bill focuses on making sure the communities most impacted by the war on drugs will be the main beneficiaries of the new cannabis industry. There’s going to be a lot of jobs, a lot of businesses made,” Jason Ortiz, president of the Minority Cannabis Business Association, says.
What do they want?
“We want home grow for all, we want labor peace agreements and we want real equity,” he added.
Ortiz said he’d rather they get it right from the beginning.
“I think we can get it right, right now. I think the governor understands what we want and it’s a matter of finding where the compromise can happen,” Ortiz said.