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March 13, 2024

Cannabis, AI proposals pass committee

HBJ Photo | Skyler Frazer Members of the state General Law Committee discusses cannabis legislation during the 2024 General Assembly session.

The state legislature’s General Law Committee on Tuesday approved two major proposals related to artificial intelligence and cannabis.

Senate Bill 2, which would establish a regulatory framework for AI and invest in new artificial intelligence workforce and business development initiatives, was approved by the committee and sent to the Senate floor for further debate.

House Bill 5150, which would amend several parts of Connecticut’s 2021 recreational cannabis legalization law, will move on to the House floor for more discussion and a potential vote. 

Lawmakers made a few key changes in the cannabis bill, following a public hearing that drew concerns from various constituencies

One change loosens proposed restrictions on the sale of seltzers and other products containing THC, the psychoactive compound found in cannabis.

Initially, the bill restricted the sale of seltzers and other products containing THC to licensed cannabis dispensaries only, closing an existing loophole that has allowed the products to be sold in package stores, gas stations and other businesses without a cannabis license.

A revised version of the bill gives liquor stores the right to sell drinks containing up to 2.5 mg of THC per container to people at least 21 years old. Other businesses like restaurants and convenience stores would still be prohibited from selling such items.

The amended proposal also establishes a framework to allow low-THC hemp products, containing up to 2.5% THC per container, to be sold outside the state’s regulated cannabis market. The original bill faced backlash from hemp farmers and sellers because it had strict language limiting the sale of THC products.

The bill also allows social equity applicants to enter into agreements with licensed hemp farmers for use of their cultivation space. Hemp farmers have lobbied to be included in Connecticut’s adult-use cannabis industry since they were initially left out of the sector in the 2021 law.

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