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"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."
Medical cannabis (2012)
In April 2018, a recreational marijuana bill was approved to be sent to the General Assembly in a 27–24 vote. The plan was to be sent to the General Assembly in October 2018, though the effort ultimately stalled. All told, three separate bills were proposed but not approved. In March 2020, Governor Ned Lamont proposed a bill that had legislative support, only for the state government to shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic two weeks later.
Efforts to legalize recreational marijuana renewed in 2021, with Lamont vowing to make a push for legalization that would enable sales to begin in May 2022. A bill by Lamont narrowly passed the state Judiciary Committee by a 22–16 vote on April 6, and another competing bill, praised by the legislature's progressives, had cleared the legislature's Labor and Public Employees Committee in a 9–4 vote just days earlier on March 25. On April 14, several Democratic legislators, including president pro tempore Martin Looney, said they would vote against the measure passed by the Judiciary, stating they were concerned about a lack of provisions for social equity within the bill.
On June 22, 2021, Governor Lamont signed Senate Bill 1201 about legalizing recreational cannabis. It states that possession of cannabis among adults age 21 and over will be legal in Connecticut beginning July 1, 2021. Adults cannot have more than 1.5 ounces of cannabis on their person, and no more than 5 ounces in their homes or locked in their car truck or glove box. All adults age 21 and over will be permitted to grow six cannabis plants indoors within their homes beginning July 1, 2023.
Senate Bill 1014 reduces the penalties for the adult possession of up to one half-ounce of marijuana from a criminal misdemeanor (formerly punishable by one year in jail and a $1,000 fine) to a non-criminal infraction, punishable by a $150 fine, no arrest or jail time, and no criminal record. The new law similarly reduces penalties for the possession of marijuana paraphernalia.
Possession of larger amounts of marijuana is still illegal and punishable by imprisonment and monetary fines. A subsequent offense of possession of one half-ounce of marijuana is still a non-criminal infraction but the fine rises to $200–500. First offense of possessing one-half to four ounces is a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in prison and $1,000 in fine. A subsequent offense becomes a felony punishable by up to 5 years' incarceration and $3,000 fine.
First offense of possession of 4 ounces or more is a felony punishable by 5 years' imprisonment and $2,000 fine. Subsequent offenses are punishable by 10 years in jail and a fine of $5,000. The minimum mandatory sentence for possession of marijuana within 1,500 feet of a school is 2 years' incarceration (without monetary fine) that runs consecutively with any other sentence.
Selling any amount of marijuana is completely illegal and a felony punishable by no less than 7 years in jail and $25,000 in fine. Selling to minors and possessing within 1,500 feet (460 m) of a school or day care are both felonies which adds 3 years' imprisonment to any other sentence imposed. There is no monetary fine imposed.
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