As the summer winds down, Connecticut prepares for cannabis sales and upcoming elections

August 9, 2021

Typically, August is a sleepy month in the Northeast. Many people are taking vacations or time off, hitting the golf course, and—generally—taking advantage of the weather as summer winds down. Seemingly, this year is no different, especially since the roll-out of COVID-19 vaccines and looser travel restrictions.

That said, it’s been a busy time in state government and politics. Here’s a run-down on what’s happening in Connecticut:

Legalized cannabis. Recreational adult-use cannabis became legal in Connecticut on July 1, 2021, following passage of comprehensive legislation in a special session that took place just days after the 2021 legislative session wrapped up.

Now, the race is on to set up a marketplace for legal cannabis in Connecticut. The legislation that legalized cannabis created the Social Equity Council, an oversight council, which will work with the Department of Consumer Protection to develop licensing standards for growers and sellers of cannabis products, and to ensure that individuals adversely impacted by the war on drugs are represented in the marketplace. Legal sale of cannabis in Connecticut are expected to begin in 2022.

36th state Senate district special election. Sen. Alexandra Kasser, D-36, who represented Greenwich and Stamford, gave up her seat abruptly in late June, setting off a special election to fill her seat. Although Kasser filled the seat as a Democrat, it had been viewed widely as a safe seat for the Republican Party for years, and the battle is fierce to flip the seat back to the Republicans. Ryan Fazio—who lost in the 2020 election—is running again for the Republican Party, while Alexis Gevanter, an attorney and gun violence prevention advocate, is the Democratic candidate. Interestingly, John Blankley—a Democrat who lost the nomination to become the endorsed Democrat in the race—is running as an independent candidate. So far, Blankley has ignored calls from Gov. Ned Lamont and other high-ranking Democrats to drop out of the race.. The election is set for Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2021.

5th district congressional election. U.S. Rep. Jahana Hayes, D-Conn., is the first member of the Connecticut congressional delegation to face a significant challenger for the 2022 election cycle. Former state Sen. George Logan, R-17—who served in the state Senate from 2017-21—announced that he would be moving into the District 5 to run against Hayes, who is serving in her second term in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Logan, a moderate member of the GOP, would be the first Republican elected to Congress from Connecticut since Chris Shays in 2006. The National Republican Congressional Committee is expected to be active in the race, which is considered winnable with a candidate of Logan’s stature and experience.

To stay updated on these important developments in Connecticut, watch your PIA publications, including PIA Northeast News & Media and the Weekly Dispatch.

James Woulfe, Esq.
The Connecticut Group LLC

James Woulfe, Esq., is the director of Government Affairs, The Connecticut Group LLC. He is PIACT’s lobbyist. James joined The Connecticut Group in November 2016. In 2013-14, while attending law school in the evenings, James worked at a Hartford-based nonprofit and led a successful grassroots campaign to drive passage of Connecticut’s benefit corporation statute. In 2015, he was appointed by then-House Majority Leader Joe Aresimowicz to the Commission on Connecticut’s Leadership in Corporation and Business Law, where he drafted a comprehensive plan to make Connecticut a national leader in the social enterprise sector.  In 2020, he was appointed by Gov. Ned Lamont to the board of the Metropolitan District Commission. The MDC provides quality water supply, water pollution control, mapping, and household hazardous waste collection to eight member municipalities. In 2021, he was appointed by Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin to serve on the board of the Hartford Housing Authority. James received a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration and a Bachelor of Science in Communications from Eastern Connecticut State University in 2009, and his Juris Doctor from Quinnipiac University School of Law in 2015.

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