Legislature ends session without voting on cannabis; governor and legislative leaders support ending prohibition


Last update: June 6, 2019

 

In March and April 2019, three legislative committees advanced bills to legalize, regulate, and tax cannabis, but the legislature adjourned on June 5 without bringing them to a vote.

A few days before the session ended, a new poll was published by the Hartford Courant and Sacred Heart University. It confirmed, once again, that Connecticut residents strongly support legalizing cannabis and expunging criminal records for low-level offenses.

It’s disappointing that the opponents of sensible cannabis policies were able to create enough uncertainty and confusion to delay our progress. However, legislative leaders and Gov. Ned Lamont have made it clear that they support legalizing and regulating cannabis, so we are confident that we will be able to finish the job.

The MPP-led Connecticut Coalition to Regulate Marijuana made it very close to the finish line this year. We’re very grateful to Adam Wood and Kebra Smith-Bolden for their excellent work leading the coalition, and to our lobbying team, led by Julie Cammarata and Chris Smith.

MPP, Regulate Connecticut, and its member organizations will continue to inform Connecticut residents about opportunities to support reform efforts as we continue to build momentum. For regular updates, please follow the Connecticut Coalition to Regulate Marijuana on Facebook and Twitter. 


Medical marijuana

Connecticut’s medical marijuana program was originally enacted on June 1, 2012. The program protects patients and caregivers from arrest and prosecution if they have a valid registration card and if the medical marijuana was obtained from the specific dispensary where the patient is registered.

In 2016, both regulators and lawmakers expanded Connecticut’s medical marijuana program.

In January 2016, the Department of Consumer Protection approved three additional dispensaries. In December 2018, DCP approved nine more dispensaries, bringing the statewide total to 18.

For more information about the program, including a current list of qualifying conditions and symptoms, click here. 

Connecticut’s law remains more limited than most other medical marijuana states’ laws. There are several areas of possible improvement, including adding chronic pain. Connecticut’s Board of Physicians discussed the possibility of approving chronic pain as a qualifying condition for the medical cannabis program, but the question was tabled for a future meeting. Please email the Department of Consumer Protection to politely express your frustration with the delay and urge them to approve chronic pain as soon as possible.


Decriminalization

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, meaning 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. 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, adults are still being punished for possessing a substance that is less harmful than alcohol, while most crimes with victims go unsolved.


Take action!

Speak out: 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.

Stay connected: You can stay up to date on all the latest news and information in Connecticut by subscribing to MPP’s free email alerts.