Lawmakers voted Monday to advance the first of a package of bills that would legalize recreational marijuana, a step they lauded as necessary to begin upending decades of inequality in arrests and convictions against minority communities.
The bill approved by the legislature’s General Law Committee would lay the foundation for a marijuana industry in Connecticut. Among other things, it would establish a licensing process for growers, manufacturers and retailers of the drug.
But the flashpoint in Monday’s debate came over the issue of equity incentives for people in areas where high rates of cannabis-related arrests have occurred. The measure would give minority entrepreneurs advantages that include a lower fee structure and priority in the application process.