November 23, 2014

Connecticut House Passes Final Vote on Marijuana Decrim Bill

Hartford

6/7/2011 – Today the Connecticut House of Representatives passed SB 1014, a bill to make possession of less than 14 grams of marijuana a non-criminal violation for adults.  There was heavy debate about the concept, but the measure prevailed in a 90-57 vote. The legislation was passed by the Senate over the weekend.

Governor Dannel P. Malloy sponsored the bill and is now expected to sign it into law.

Speaking about the bill on the floor today Republican Rep. Brenda Kupchick seemed torn: “Someone wrote to me today that if I didn’t support this bill that I would be an active proponent to government intervention into the private lives of citizens and interfering with individual liberties. That actually bothered me.”

Rep. Gerald Fox, a proponent of the legislation and the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, answered dozens of questions from his peers. Opponents seemed to be most concerned with lightening the criminal treatment for those ages 18-21. But Fox assured them that young adults would face the same penalties for marijuana as they do for underage drinking.

Rep. Fox also pointed out that by treating possession of small amounts as a non-criminal offense it would not hurt the future employment or military eligibility of young people.

“The penalty is different, but going to court remains the same,” said Fox.

Under the new bill adults in possession of less than half an ounce of marijuana would be punished with a $150 fine on the first occasion and $200-$500 for additional offenses. Those between the ages of 18-21 will need to appear in court and will also have their drivers’ license suspended for 60 days.

[UPDATE 5:05PM] Governor Malloy issued this statement today:

“Final approval of this legislation accepts the reality that the current law does more harm than good – both in the impact it has on people’s lives and the burden it places on police, prosecutors and probation officers of the criminal justice system. Let me make it clear – we are not legalizing the use of marijuana. In modifying this law, we are recognizing that the punishment should fit the crime, and acknowledging the effects of its application. There is no question that the state’s criminal justice resources could be more effectively utilized for convicting, incarcerating and supervising violent and more serious offenders.

“Modification of this law will now put Connecticut in line with the laws of two of our neighboring states, New York and Massachusetts, and a total of thirteen states across the country with similar statutes. I applaud the General Assembly in their passage of this legislation and will sign it into law. I would also like to specifically thank State Senator Martin Looney, who first introduced this legislation in 2009, for his support and advocacy of this issue.”

When the bill is signed into law Connecticut will be the 14th US State to make adult cannabis possession a non-criminal offense.

See NORML’s decrim map here

Read more at Freedomisgreen.com

Chris Goldstein is a respected marijuana reform advocate. As a writer and radio broadcaster he has been covering cannabis news for over a decade. Questions?  chris@freedomisgreen.com


Comments

  1. Esoteric Knowledge says:

    No one has the authority to illegalize a plant unless they claim to be God.

    [Reply]

  2. Karsten Hartog says:

    Even God shouldn’t take away the plants that we’re used to.

    In the case of genetically modified abominable plants though I’d say free for all to unroot and destroy them.

    [Reply]

  3. Bold Old Vet says:

    Now lets think about this, if you’re in possession, it must mean that your using it. So this means that you can be high but as long as you only have half a oz. you pay a fine of $150.00 and nothing on your record. So this also means that a police officer, truck driver, airline pilot, mechanic, judge; etc, could have their half oz. and be flying, driving, fixing and judging. Any of them using it now could lose their job and/or go to jail. Would that still be true if they just get a fine? I think that this is a very dumb bill. Maybe your representatives were high when they passed the bill.

    [Reply]

    Chris Goldstein Reply:

    This logic does not fit. The decriminalization law did not in any way change laws that apply to Driving Under the Influence, workplace drug testing or provisions requiring certain employees to test negative for substances, including THC metabolites. Any airline pilot or bus driver arrested caught with 1/2 ounce of cannabis on the job would likely face additional sanctions! Chris

    [Reply]

  4. dan says:

    Just because someone has marijuana on them does not mean they are high. If you drive home with a six pack in your car are you drunk???

    [Reply]

  5. jim says:

    foot in the door my pot smokin friends ..foot in the door….i couldnt be more thrilled,and about frickin time i might add

    [Reply]

  6. Robert says:

    Well how old do you have to be in Connecticut to be consider an adult b/c they say “Those between the ages of 18-21 will need to appear in court and will also have their drivers’ license suspended for 60 days”. How is someone 18-21 not an Adult?

    Also This bill makes no sense b/c it says “When the bill is signed into law Connecticut will be the 14th US State to make adult cannabis possession a non-criminal offense.” Well if it’s not a criminal offense why does this apply “Under the new bill adults in possession of less than half an ounce of marijuana would be punished with a $150 fine on the first occasion and $200-$500 for additional offenses.” If your not breaking any laws and it’s not a criminal offense to have less then an ounce of Marijuana why would you have to pay the courts anything?

    [Reply]

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