February 12, 2016

Elected Officials in CT Courts on Marijuana Charges

8/29/2011 – Last week was a busy one for elected officials caught with pot in Connecticut. A former alderman from Ansonia, CT was sentenced in a federal court to 3 years in prison for his role in growing more than 1400 cannabis plants. Joseph Cassetti, 61, owned many of the properties where the plants were seized in 2008. Two other men in their twenties were convicted of selling and distributing the cannabis.

Next was Rhode Island State Representative Robert A. Watson who failed to reach a plea deal in a DUI case. Watson was stopped by East Haven, CT police in April at a sobriety checkpoint. He tested below the legal limit for alcohol, blowing a 0.05 percent. But a urinalysis showed THC and cocaine.

In an interesting twist, Watson claims to be using cannabis to treat pancreatitis. He said that he did not smoke any marijuana the day of his arrest. Watson also said he kept marijuana on hand for medical use.

Watson, a Republican, has held his seat since 1993. He was the House Minority Leader at the time of his arrest but was quickly removed from that role by his legislative peers.  Still, Watson has retained his seat and has not announced any plans to resign.

Watson did vote “Yes” in 2009 for the medical marijuana law now in place. Yet when Rhode Island considered a bill to decriminalize marijuana possession for adults this year Watson fought hard against it.

In a Feb. 2011 speech to the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce Rep. Watson put his opposition to a variety of bills into a now-infamous statement: “I suppose if you’re a gay man from Guatemala who gambles and smokes pot, you probably think that we’re onto some good ideas here.”

Watson refused to apologize for the statement, even when pressured by Guatemalan-American groups.

Rep. Watson is essentially the only openly-green medical cannabis patient in the Rhode Island General Assembly. It is not known if he is officially a participant in the state’s program. RI allows access though caregivers and home cultivation. Governor Lincoln Chafee has kept the three state-approved RI dispensaries from opening.

Because Watson failed to reach a plea deal in Connecticut last week the case against him will continue.

Read more at Freedomisgreen.com

IMPORTANT – Full Text: Department of Justice Memo on Medical Marijuana

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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




NY and CT Move Closer to Jersey-style Medical Marijuana

7/26/2011 – Medical marijuana legislation is nothing new to New York or Connecticut. A serious push was seen in Hartford earlier this year and Albany has considered bills for over a decade. Despite considerable public support and a growing choir of patient voices, neither state has passed a law. Now, statements from New Jersey’s conservative Governor Chris Christie have elected officials in NY and CT looking at their future cannabis options.

Rhode Island, Maine and Vermont  have working medical cannabis programs and even some open dispensaries. But Gov. Christie was a federal prosecutor for seven years prior to being elected governor. During a July 19th press conference about medical marijuana he offered an insightful discussion of the various “intersections” between state and federal laws.

It is important to note that NY and CT are considering very narrow and limited bills, modeled after New Jersey.

The Hartford Advocate reported on 7/25

A bill to legalize medical marijuana in Connecticut kind of withered away in the 2011 General Assembly, never reaching a vote in the state House or Senate. The bill’s supporters say the intense focus on state budget problems and concerns about how to grow and regulate medical pot created roadblocks for a bill similar to one that passed and was vetoed by Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell several years ago.

Gov. Dannel Malloy supports legalizing medical marijuana in Connecticut. His top criminal justice adviser, Michael Lawlor, says he expects new legislation modeled on the systems in New Jersey, Rhode Island and similar programs in other states will pass the legislature in 2012.

Lawlor says it’s very unlikely the new bill will be anything like the freewheeling medical pot program in California. “They’re selling pot brownies in the shop windows out there,” says Lawlor. read full

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo made a slight shift in his medical cannabis position. Because he was so staunchly against the issue, his comments are notable.  On 7/25 the Elmira Star-Gazette reported:

Cuomo, a Democrat, has not supported medical marijuana in the past, and he said he has not changed his position. He did, however, leave the door open on the issue.

“We have proponents of the policy. I know New Jersey’s looking at it. We have opponents of the policy,” he said. “We’re talking to both sides of the issue, if you will, and we’re reviewing it, but we don’t have a final position.”

The governor said that while he hadn’t changed his stance, “We’re always learning and listening and talking and growing, we hope.”

New Jersey became the 16th state to legalize medical marijuana under legislation signed by Christie’s predecessor.

Legislation to allow patients with debilitating illnesses to use marijuana if they are registered with the state and receive a prescription from their physician has passed the Assembly before but never the Senate. Under the bill, sponsored by Assemblyman Richard Gottfried and Sen. Thomas Duane, both Manhattan Democrats, hospitals and pharmacies would do the bulk of the dispensing. The maximum amount that could be dispensed would be 2.5 ounces. read full

Actually NJ was the 14th state to pass a medical marijuana law when legislation was signed in 2010;  Arizona and Delaware were #15 and #16.

Will these heavily restrictive schemes for marijuana actually work for seriously ill patients? That remains to be seen.

What is more certain is that regulated medical cannabis growing in the Garden State – with the blessing of a former US Attorney – could have a significant influence on New York and Connecticut.

IMPORTANT – Full Text: Department of Justice Memo on Medical Marijuana

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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



Connecticut Marijuana Decrim Now in Effect

7/4/2011 – This week the residents of the Constitution State are gaining back some of the liberty that was created 235 years ago. Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy signed a law that removes criminal penalties for possession of up to 1/2 ounce of marijuana. Adults caught with 14 grams of pot or less are now given 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.

When the law passed a final vote in the CT House on June 7th Governor Malloy said, ” 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.”

Governor Malloy, a Democrat, is a former prosecutor and crafted the decriminalization bill. His Republican predecessor, Jodi Rell, vetoed a similar bill that passed both houses in 2009.

Connecticut is the 14th US State to make adult cannabis possession a non-criminal offense.

A bill modeled after the new CT law was recently introduced in New Jersey.

See NORML’s decrim map here

Related – Connecticut House Passes Final Vote on Marijuana Decrim Bill

Read more at Freedomisgreen.com

IMPORTANT – Full Text: Department of Justice Memo on Medical Marijuana

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Maryjane’s Corner

Sensible Science

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



Connecticut House Passes Final Vote on Marijuana Decrim Bill


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. [Read more…]

Connecticut Senate Passes Half-Ounce Marijuana Decrim Bill

Capitol, Hartford

6/5/2011 – The Connecticut Senate passed Governor Dan Malloy’s decriminalization bill on June 4th. Time is running short for the legislative session and the bill is getting one last push. Recent amendments lowered the amount of cannabis adults can posses from one ounce to half an ounce.  Offenders would pay a $150 fine the first time and $200-$500 on further occasions. Those under the age of 21 would also have their driver’s license suspended for 60 days.

All of the Republicans in the Senate voted against the bill. The legislation must still pass a floor vote in the House. [Read more…]

Marijuana Decriminalization Bill Progressing in Connecticut


State House in Hartford, CT

Legislation to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana by adults is moving forward in Hartford. The Joint Judiciary Committee approved the bill on Tuesday April 12th. The proposed change in state law would allow for a $100 fine and a non-criminal citation for those caught with up to a half-ounce of cannabis. The original language called for possession of up to one ounce. [Read more…]

Spring Bloom: East Coast States Moving Medical Cannabis Forward

4/7/2011 – Riding a green wave of unprecedented public support, medical marijuana legislation is gaining significant progress in several East Coast states. Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland and North Carolina all reached important milestones in the last two weeks towards legal access to therapeutic cannabis.

Yesterday Connecticut’s Joint Judiciary Committee voted 34-10 to move forward their compassionate use bill. A previous, hard-fought attempt saw the Legislature pass medical marijuana only to have it vetoed by the then Governor Jody Rell. An attempt to overturn that veto fell achingly short by just two votes. But newly elected Governor Daniel Malloy has been a champion of marijuana issues in Connecticut, including decriminalization. Malloy has stated that he would sign it into law if it passes again.  Take Action in CT

The Delaware Senate passed a bill on March 30th to legalize marijuana for medical use and create a dispensing system. The floor vote on Senate Bill 17 was notable in its strength, passing by 18 to 3. Delaware is unfortunately following in the footsteps of New Jersey and Washington DC by eliminating all provisions for patients to cultivate their cannabis at home. The model bill from the Marijuana Policy Project creates a strict, centralized system but does allow patients to posses six ounces per month.  Take Action in DE

Maryland’s Legislature is taking an interesting approach with a clear focus on protecting patients from arrest. On March 24th the Senate passed a bill to allow some seriously ill residents a medical necessity defense in court. Then on March 28th a Joint Committee moved forward an official study process for a full-fledged medical cannabis system. Fines for minor marijuana possession in Maryland are $100.Take Action in MD

On April 3rd North Carolina joined the growing ranks of active states, legislation was introduced there with language for home cultivation. HB 577 certainly enjoys popular support, although several previous attempts have faced an uphill battle. Still, a Harris Poll released last week may help shore up support in a state that has many traditionally conservative politicians. Although stereotyped as a liberal, west coast issue, the poll showed that more support exists in the “East” for medical marijuana. Vast majorities, 80 percent, of voters favor the issue across the political spectrum. Take Action in NC

On the horizon: Vermont will consider legislation for a medical cannabis system,  New Hampshire’s Senate will hold a hearing on HB 442 and Pennsylvania will re-introduce a compassionate use bill that was active last year.

This month: Regulated medical marijuana programs on the East Coast will see major progress as systems are brought online under existing laws in New Jersey, Maine, Rhode Island and Washington DC.

Stay tuned for further updates on the spring bloom here at Freedomisgreen.com.

Get involved at NORML’s Take Action Center

Read the Weekly Legislative Round Up from NORML’s Deputy Director Paul Armentano

Lean a little left? – Willie Nelson’s Teapot Party

Chris Goldstein is a respected marijuana reform advocate. As a writer and radio broadcaster he has been covering cannabis news for over a decade. He volunteers with local groups to change prohibition laws including PhillyNORML and The Coalition for Medical Marijuana New Jersey. Contact chris {at} freedomisgreen.com

Connecticut: Public backs marijuana reforms

photo by C. David Freitag

The Drug War Chronicle reported yesterday on some striking new polling in Connecticut. Voters are heavily favoring a variety of marijuana reforms and legislation is currently active,  giving the poll results even more importance.

DRCNet – A Quinnipiac University poll released Thursday showed strong support for medical marijuana and marijuana decriminalization among Connecticut voters. The poll comes at state legislators consider medical marijuana and decriminalization bills.

The plant is getting popular in Connecticut.

Medical marijuana had the support of a whopping 79% of respondents. Support was above 70% in every demographic, with even 72% of Republicans favoring it.

“There is a near consensus on the medical marijuana law with about eight in 10 voters supporting it,” said Quinnipiac poll director Dr. Douglas Schwartz. “It’s rare to see such a level of support for any issue.” Read full

Connecticut residents can use the NORML CAPWIZ tool to contact your legislators: http://capwiz.com/norml2/issues