Marijuana Law Changes in Connecticut [2019]

Posted on: August 23, 2019

Marijuana law in Connecticut remains a challenging and complicated area of law, mostly because so much misinformation exists out in the state. Below is a brief primer on the changes to marijuana law in Connecticut. In 2012, Connecticut enacted its medical marijuana program, which allowed patients and caregivers to obtain medical marijuana from specific registered dispensaries.  In 2016, this medical marijuana bill program was expanded but remained more limited than other states.

Understanding the details

In early spring of 2019, Connecticut lawmakers attempted to legalize recreational marijuana to adults age 21 and above.  Though a piece of legislation passed key legislative checkpoints, the bill eventually stopped at the negotiations phase in early May.   Ultimately, even though Connecticut legislators expected to legalize recreational marijuana before the legislative session ended in early June, lawmakers were unable to reach a compromise. Proponents of recreational legalization argued that it would have an overall statewide positive impact.

In contrast, opponents cited the unknowns involved with legalization. Most of the unknowns stem from the fact that all predictions were unable to be supported in the future and are guesswork. Ultimately no vote occurred concerning the issue of legalization of recreational marijuana because both sides agreed that there was not enough support for the bill. The most likely outcome will be a state referendum, either in 2020 or 2021. 

Committees regarding legalization

Three committees approved bills regarding the legalization of marijuana, including:

  • Judiciary
  • General Law and finance
  • Revenue and bonding

While all three of these three proposed bills passed committee votes, none proceeded to the House or the Senate to receive a vote. The reality seems to be that marijuana law in Connecticut will remain at the status quo. Even though the use of marijuana in Connecticut is decriminalized, full recreational marijuana use will likely not pass without external pressure. 

If surrounding states such as New York or New Jersey passed legalization bills, then Connecticut might want to ramp up pressures within the state to capitalize on receiving taxation benefits. Much of the subsequent commentary identified a couple of factors for why the legalization efforts eventually failed, including competing information, a successful anti-lobbying campaign, and general complacency on the part of voters.  

A Long-term process

Key supporters of the legalization initiative have begun to consider adding the issue to the ballot next year via a constitutional amendment, though such a proposal is incredibly labor-intensive.  Amending the Connecticut constitution is complicated because legislators would first need to pass a resolution, which would allow the proposal to appear on the ballot. If three quarters of both the Connecticut House and Senate approve of the resolution, it would be placed in the next state election. 

If passed by both legislative bodies, it might appear on the 2022 general election ballot. At that point, it would require Connecticut voters to approve of the constitutional amendment. Based on recent polling, it appears as though allowing voters to decide would eventually lead to legalization. Connecticut residents seemingly support legalizing recreational marijuana in addition to expunging low-level marijuana criminal offenses.

Call (203) 624-6115 to schedule a consultation with Knight & Cerritelli in our New Haven office.

NOTE: This blog is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.

Check out what others are saying about our services on Yelp: Read our Yelp reviews.

Related Posts

August 23, 2019

Connecticut Pardons and Parole [Questions and Answers]

The topic of pardons and parole in Connecticut is a mixed bag. Pardons and parole involve a multi-step process with discretion …

July 8, 2019

When to Get a Larceny Attorney in New Haven, CT

In Connecticut, a larceny attorney can help navigate the entire process of being charged with a crime. Larceny can be classified as a felony or misdemeanor, usually depending on the value of the property that …

July 3, 2019

Cyber Crimes a Connecticut Computer Crimes Attorney Represents

Considering the constant advances in technology, a computer crimes attorney is sometimes necessary to respond to the evolving law of Connecticut.  In general, Connecticut police and prosecutors rely on the Connecticut Computer Crime Law, which functions …

June 10, 2019

What Happened at the Recent Connecticut Gun Hearing?

In the longest Judiciary Committee meeting, dubbed the "gun hearing", this year, lasting for more than eight hours, the committee debated seven firearm bills that would affect gun owners rights, either limiting those rights or …