New Bills Introduced for Further Marijuana Decriminalization
Attitudes across the country are changing when it comes to marijuana and the punishment for marijuana possession, and Connecticut is no exception. According to Connecticut law, the state currently carries fines and criminal penalties for certain levels of possession. Possession of less than one-half ounce of marijuana carries a $150 fine for the first offense. Penalties become increasingly harsh with frequency of offense: a second offense can carry up to a $500 penalty. Third-time offenders will have to attend drug education classes, which will be paid for by their own means. The more substance, the higher the penalty as well: if a person has more than a half-ounce but less than 4 ounces of cannabis he or she can face up to a $1,000 fine and up to a year in prison, or both. These penalties were enacted in 2011, making possession of small amounts of marijuana a civil violation instead of a criminal offense, as it had been in previous years.
Even still, in light of legalization in Washington and Colorado and decriminalization of marijuana in many other states, these punishments can seem unduly tough. This is perhaps one reason attitudes in Connecticut are changing toward the necessity of strict penalties for marijuana possession and recreational use.
In recent months, the Connecticut state legislature seems ready to discuss further decriminalization and even possible legalization. Representative Edwin Vargas and Representative Juan Candelaria have both introduced house bills that would replace prohibition of marijuana with restrictive legalization for adult use. According to the Marijuana Policy Project, a recent study out of Quinnipiac University found that the majority of Connecticut voters support legalization of marijuana for adults: 52 percent of all voters supported such a measure, as did 80 percent of voters under the age of 30.
Currently, strict penalties for possession and marijuana use in Connecticut are in place. If you or someone you know is facing drug charges, the most important step is to seek legal counsel. Do not go through it alone. Contact an experienced Fairfield County criminal defense attorney today.