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Bill to tax cannabis would send revenue back to communities

HARTFORD — We told you about the plan to legalize and regulate marijuana.

Now, as you might expect, there’s a bill to tax it.

 Under the bill, money would be 100 percent invested into cities and towns, specifically, economically distressed and under-served communities.

The third of three bills related to making marijuana legal got a public hearing at the Legislative Office Building on Monday.

“Marijuana is already being consumed here in Connecticut,” said Rep. Jason Rojas, a Democrat from the 9th District. “It’s here. It’s a question of do we want to offer Connecticut a regulated system that perhaps may result in some additional safety pieces for the state.”

SB 1138 would put a 6.35 percent tax on the retail sale of pot and allow for a 3 percent local option tax for communities that opt into the retail industry.

But Republican lawmakers say the negative impact legal pot could have can’t be quantified in dollars and cents. “That’s what we are trying to share are the stories that are not heard in our search for revenue,” said Sen. Tony Hwang, a Republican from the 28th District.

Susan Klein lost Kevin, her husband of 25 years. He was killed on I-84 last year by a driver who was high.

I’m so afraid for my children and I’m afraid for everybody. This is unconscionable,” said Klein.

Tiffany Davidson told FOX61 about her son’s struggle with addiction.

What started as recreational use with friends increased exponentially into daily use multiple times a day in his room by himself with plans to move onto harder drugs.”

The issue isn’t a partisan one.

The bill would make it legal for anyone 21 or older when some studies show marijuana affects a developing brain until age 26. 

“I have a long line of addiction in my family and it seems to be that under that age it’s a gateway drug,” explained Sen. Christine Cohen, a Democrat from the 12th District.

But Kebra Smith, who is a registered nurse told FOX61 she’s excited about how the revenue would be used.

“The war on drugs damaged and destroyed many communities and with cannabis funds we have an opportunity to repair that,” said Smith.

The money collected from the local option tax would go back to the community where the sale was made. The state tax would go into a Community Development Corporation Trust Fund to be distributed by an oversight council and used in part, to improve literacy in schools.

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