For the third time this year, a key legislative committee voted in favor of a controversial bill that could lead to the legalization of recreational marijuana in Connecticut.

The finance committee voted Wednesday night on taxation issues related to marijuana that would be merged in the coming weeks into an overall bill to legalize the drug. Previously, the general law and judiciary committees both approved legalization in bills that focused on the regulatory and legal aspects.

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Proponents say that Connecticut has fallen behind some other states in collecting taxes at a time when marijuana use is already happening in the Nutmeg State and throughout New England. Lawmakers are pushing for an overall tax rate of about 20 percent in order to remain competitive with the same rate as Massachusetts, where marijuana is legal and became available in November. The Connecticut bill includes a local option for retailers in cities and towns to charge 3 percent as part of the overall taxation.

Deputy House Republican leader Vincent Candelora of North Branford criticized the taxation levels, saying that the price of legal marijuana could eventually go higher than the prices charged by drug dealers.

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