Connecticut coalition launches as legalization gains momentum
Last update: March 6, 2017
Legalizing Marijuana for Adult Use
Four bills have been introduced in the General Assembly that would end marijuana prohibition for adults and replace it with a system that would tax and regulate marijuana like alcohol:
- SB 11: An Act Concerning the Legalization and Taxation of the Retail Sale of Marijuana, introduced by Sen. Martin Looney
- HB 5314: An Act Concerning the Regulation and Taxation of the Retail Sale and Cultivation of Marijuana for Use by Persons Twenty-One Years of Age or Older, introduced by Rep. Melissa Ziobron
- HB 5539: An Act Concerning the Legalization, Taxation and Regulation of the Retail Sale and Use of Marijuana, introduced by Rep. Juan Candelaria
- HB 6518: An Act Concerning the Retail Sale of Marijuana, introduced by Rep. Toni Walker
To help with ending and replacing marijuana prohibition, MPP has brought on a political director — Sam Tracy — to launch the Connecticut Coalition to Regulate Marijuana, a group of organizations and community leaders. If you are a member of an organization that may be interested in endorsing marijuana regulation, please contact Sam.
Interested volunteers and grasstops leaders, such as clergy, doctors, law enforcement officers, and other stakeholders, can join the team by completing our form here. Please also let us know if you have been negatively impacted by marijuana prohibition, including if you’ve been arrested or cited, or if you’ve been in a dangerous situation due to marijuana’s illegality.
In 2016, both regulators and lawmakers expanded Connecticut’s medical marijuana program.
In January, the Department of Consumer Protection approved three additional dispensaries. (See a listing of dispensaries here.) The following month, a legislative committee approved the department’s addition of six new conditions to the 11 already included in the state’s medical marijuana program.
Connecticut is the only medical marijuana state that completely excludes minors, but that will change when a new law takes effect on October 1. On May 17, 2016, Gov. Dannel Malloy signed HB 5450, which will allow minors to qualify if they have been diagnosed with certain medical conditions, if they have two physicians’ certifications, and if their parents consent. HB 5450 will also allow dispensaries to provide medical marijuana to certain medical facilities and will allow nurses to administer marijuana at health care facilities.
Legislative history and background:
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.
While the program’s expansion is an important move, Connecticut’s law remains far more limited than most other medical marijuana states’ laws. There are several areas of possible improvement, including adding intractable pain and allowing patients access to more than one dispensary. Hopefully, 2017 will see more successful efforts to improve the program. To learn more about Connecticut’s medical marijuana program and how it compares to the programs in other states, visit our state-by-state report.
Legislative history and background:
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.
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.
Contact us: If you are a law enforcement official, a clergy member, a member of the legal community, or a community leader who supports regulating marijuana, please email [email protected] to see how you can be of special help. Be sure to include your zip code so we can determine who your legislators are.