5/10/2011 –Medical use of marijuana is not the only prohibition policy that states are changing. Legislators in Connecticut continue their drive to make the adult possession of cannabis a civil offense. The General Assembly’s powerful Finance Committee passed a bill today to decriminalize adult marijuana possession. The measure passed the Judiciary Committee last month and now heads to the state Senate.
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On a vote of 31 to 20, the committee approved the measure after about 45 minutes of discussion. The bill would make the penalty for possession of a half-ounce of marijuana or less akin to receiving a speeding ticket. Those charged would be assessed fines instead of facing criminal penalties.
State Sen. Toni Boucher, a Republican from Wilton who is one of the leading critics of decriminalization, offered up several amendments, including one that would have toughen the penalties. But she failed to garner enough support to amend the bill.
The bill would set the penalty for a first offense of possession of less than an ounce of pot at no more than $90, less than the fines for littering, illegal fishing, having a defective muffler or damaging trees on state property, Boucher said. READ FULL ARTICLE
Massachusetts decriminalized adult marijuana possession by a voter referendum in 2008. Adults caught with one ounce (28 grams) of pot or less are now issued a ticket for $100 without a custodial arrest. Reports have shown the shift was successful for municipalities and the state
New York decriminalized marijuana in 1977 with legislation that includes provisions for a $250 fine and $100 court fee in cases where adults are caught with 25 grams or less. But in New York City police practices have seen pot possession arrests soar in recent years to over 50,000 annually, flouting state law.
Connecticut legislators passed a bill in 2009 to decriminalize marijuana only to have it vetoed by the previous governor Jodi Rell (R). But the issue has found a stronger path in 2011 with Governor Daniel Malloy sponsoring the bill and a group of legislators eager to see the concept finally become a law.
Decriminalizing cannabis is a pragmatic option for the state because it frees up a massive amount tax dollars needed for law enforcement.
‘Decrim’ is also a tangible and positive shift for cannabis consumers; no more arrest, bail, court, parole or probation. Even better, the civil citation means there is never a criminal record.
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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. He volunteers with local groups to change prohibition laws including PhillyNORML and The Coalition for Medical Marijuana New Jersey.