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Fairfield County marijuana possession lawyerLaws prohibiting the consumption and sale of marijuana are changing rapidly across the country. However, this does not mean that the substance is not subject to strict regulations. In Connecticut, marijuana has been decriminalized. Possession of less than a half-ounce of marijuana is punishable by a modest fine, and, if the offender is under age 21, a 60-day suspension of his or her driver’s license. However, possession of larger amounts of marijuana, transportation of the drug across state lines, or driving under the influence of marijuana can result in serious criminal consequences, including jail time.

Marijuana Possession May Be a Misdemeanor or Felony Offense

If you are caught with more than a half-ounce of marijuana, you face a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $2,000. However, you may be able to avoid jail time by participating in a pretrial diversion program. With this option, you may be required to undergo drug treatment, mental health counseling, community service, and/or ongoing drug testing.

If you possessed a significant quantity of marijuana, the prosecution may argue that you intended to sell the illegal drug. Selling marijuana or possessing it with intent to sell is a felony offense in Connecticut. If you are convicted of possession with intent to sell, you may face a prison sentence of up to seven years and a $25,000 fine. Possession of more than one kilogram of marijuana is punishable by 5 to 20 years in prison.

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marijuana DUI, Connecticut drug crimes lawyerThe decriminalization of marijuana is a growing trend nationwide. In Washington and Colorado, marijuana has been legalized, while in almost half the states—including Connecticut—it may be used legally only for medical purposes. However, there may be a darker side to these trends: a recent study shows that the number of marijuana-related automobile fatalities has risen sharply in the last decade. The data suggest that drugged driving may be an increasingly common cause of car accidents.

According to a report by the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, the presence of non-alcohol drugs in the systems of drivers involved in fatal car crashes has been on the rise and has tripled in the last decade. Using data from the states that routinely test the blood of drivers involved in fatal car accidents, the study reported that in 1999, 4.2 percent of drivers who were killed in automobile crashes tested positive for marijuana; in 2010, that number increased to 12.2 percent. The major increase was shown across all ages and in both genders.

The study also showed that alcohol use was more prevalent than drug use in drivers involved in fatal crashes, but that percentage has stayed relatively stable. The presence of all non-alcohol drugs increased from 16.6 percent in 1999 to 28.3 percent in 2010. This increase may be attributable to the decriminalization of marijuana as well as the national opioid use epidemic. While all states have laws prohibiting impaired driving, the national trend toward permitting at least limited marijuana use may be a factor in the increased number of drugged-driving incidents.

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