Last Update: March 4, 2015
Connecticut considering legalization and regulation laws for adult consumers
Several positive bills have been presented this session that could significantly improve marijuana laws in Connecticut. Rep. Edwin Vargas’s HB 6473 and Rep. Juan Candelaria's HB 6703 would each replace Connecticut’s prohibition of marijuana with sensible regulations for adults’ use. A recent poll conducted by Quinnipiac University found that a majority of voters in Connecticut support legalizing cannabis for adults. Fifty-two percent of all voters, and 80% of voters under 30 years old, support legalizing the possession of personal use amounts of marijuana for adults. Ask your legislators to support legalizing marijuana and regulating it similarly to alcohol.
Two other bills could help provide important access to medical marijuana for minors. Connecticut is one of the only states that prohibits seriously ill minors from having legal access to the state medical marijuana program. HB 5892, sponsored by Rep. Kevin Ryan, would change that for qualified minors who have permission and supervision by a parent or guardian. Another bill, HB 6862, would simply study how access by minors could affect them.
Meanwhile, the Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection, which oversees the state’s medical marijuana program, added four new conditions to the list of qualifying medical conditions. Earlier this year, it agreed with the Board of Physicians to include sickle cell disease, post laminectomy syndrome (“failed back syndrome”), severe psoriasis, and psoriatic arthritis.
Connecticut one of 19 states to have decriminalized marijuana possession
Since 2011, possession of a half-ounce or less of marijuana has been a civil violation in Connecticut, punishable by a fine of up to $150. It is not a jailable offense. Subsequent offenses are subject to increased fines ranging from $200-$500. Upon a third violation, offenders are referred to a drug awareness program. Most importantly, those accused of being in possession are not saddled with a criminal record, which can mark a person for life. In addition to the fine, anyone under 21 who is found in possession of less than a half-ounce of marijuana faces a 60-day suspension of his or her driver's license.
Although Connecticut has improved its marijuana laws in recent years, penalties still exist for adults in possession of a substance that is less harmful than alcohol. Data reported to the FBI by state law enforcement shows that in 2012, 85% of all marijuana-related arrests or citations were for possession. During the same period, over 76% of all reported rapes, and 85% of all burglaries, including home invasions, went unsolved. Law enforcement should focus its resources and time on serious crime instead of pursuing people in possession of small amounts of cannabis.
Please ask your legislators to take marijuana off the criminal market, to legalize it for adults, and to tax and regulate it similarly to alcohol.
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