Is Recreational Marijuana Use in Connecticut Legal?

Posted on: June 5, 2019

Current Marijuana Laws

Recreational marijuana use is not yet legal, even though Connecticut has permitted the use of medical marijuana since 2012.  In addition, even though possession of small amounts of recreational marijuana is decriminalized. This means that the first offense for possession of a small amount of marijuana will not result in prison time or recording the charge on a person’s criminal record. However, when the amount of marijuana found in possession increases, along with intent which accompanies increases in amount, the consequences can become much more serious.

The difficulty in creating a cohesive law stems from the fact that legalizing a substance that has been illegal for more than 80 years is complicated. In other words, even though the intent is there, Connecticut lawmakers are purposely moving slowly in order to best tackle this problem. For example, many Connecticut towns have disproportionately affected minority citizens. Overnight legalization of recreational marijuana would rub salt in the wounds of those affected by the war on drugs. 

Current Marijuana Possession Penalties 

First Offense of Possession

  • Less than .5 oz. can result in a maximum fine of $150
  • .5 oz. – 4 oz. can result in a maximum fine of $1,000 and a maximum of one year in jail 
  • More than 4 oz. can result in a maximum fine of $2,000 and a maximum of five years in jail 

Subsequent Offenses: 

  • Less than .5 ounces can result in a maximum fine of $500
  • .5 ounces to 4 ounces can result in a maximum fine of $3,000 and a maximum of five years in jail 
  • More than 4 ounces can result in a maximum fine of $5,000 and a maximum of ten years in jail 

Recent Developments in Connecticut Marijuana Law

While the majority of states have legalized medicinal marijuana use, fewer states have voted to decriminalize its recreational use. Passing a vote through the legislature can either pass by statewide vote or recreational marijuana use. In February 2019, the Connecticut General Assembly’s legislative session began, which introduced marijuana legislation into the agenda. Until it passes, recreational marijuana use remains illegal. 

As of late March 2019, Connecticut lawmakers approved the advancement of the first package of bills legalizing recreational marijuana. The bill, approved by Connecticut’s General Law Committee, also significantly laws the foundation for the marijuana industry in Connecticut, establishing a respective licensing process for growers, manufacturers and retailers. In addition, the proposed bills envision a regulated industry, which would parallel Connecticut’s medical marijuana program. This would issue licenses and allow the Connecticut government to completely oversee and regulate all developments.

Finally, along with legalizing recreational use, the proposed bills would expunge the arrest records for those charged with certain drug-related offenses, prohibit home-grown marijuana, and forbid the sale of certain marijuana-enhanced candies. Ultimately, it must be emphasized that even though the bills have been introduced to the Connecticut legislature and the prospects appear promising, the current legalization efforts are ongoing. This does not mean that recreational marijuana use is currently or definitively will be legal in the near future.

Call (203) 624-6115 today to reach Knight & Cerritelli. NOTE: This is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.

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