Connecticut: Lawmakers Vote To Decriminalize Adult Marijuana Possession

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director June 7, 2011

    Connecticut lawmakers moments ago voted 90 to 57 in favor of Senate Bill 1014, decriminalizing the possession of small amounts of cannabis for personal use by adults. Senate lawmakers had narrowly approved an amended version of the measure on Saturday; House lawmakers concurred with the Senate today, sending the measure to Democrat Gov. Dannel Malloy — who will sign it into law.

    As amended, SB 1014 reduces the penalties for the adult possession of up to one-half ounce of marijuana from a criminal misdemeanor (punishable by one year in jail and a $1,000 fine) to a non-criminal infraction, punishable by a fine, no jail time, and no criminal record. (This measure would similarly reduce penalties on the possession of marijuana paraphernalia.)

    Once signed into law, Connecticut will become the fourteenth state to replace criminal sanctions and arrest for minor marijuana possession with largely non-criminal sanctions. (Seven states pose no criminal sanctions for cannabis possession; six states have eliminated the potential for jail terms for first offenses, but still classify the offense as a misdemeanor or minor misdemeanor.)

    Connecticut is only the second state to enact decriminalization legislatively in the past decade. (Massachusetts enacted a similar law via ballot initiative in 2009.)

    NORML supporters, and Connecticut NORML’s regional organizer and state lobbyist Erik Williams, played a significant role in sheparding this legislation through the State House — generating thousands of phone calls and e-mails to lawmakers at a time when political experts were alleging that the measure lacked the political will for passage. Below is a message from Erik Williams:

    Dear CT NORML Friends and Supporters,

    We did it! Moments ago, the Connecticut House of Representatives passed SB 1014, Decriminalizing Small Amounts of Marijuana. The Governor has pledged to sign the bill into law.

    Thank you for all of your hard work in making this a reality. Connecticut has taken a first step in addressing the outdated and unworkable War on Drugs, which costs taxpayers $billions every year and ruins individual lives and devastates communities.

    While this is clearly a victory for CT NORML and the State of Connecticut, it is bittersweet as the Medical Marijuana bill has yet to be brought for a vote in the Senate. If it were to be brought for a vote, it would easily pass with both Republicans and Democrats supporting the measure. I pledge right now to all of you who have fought so hard with me for the legalization of medical marijuana that I will not give up until nobody stands in the way of you and your doctor making medical decisions. I will not give up until compassion is the main driver of public policy replacing political posturing, demagoguery and fear. I will not stop working until medical marijuana is legalized and I ask you to continue to fight by my side.

    Connecticut’s legislative session ends tomorrow, but there is still time to act in favor of medical cannabis. If you live in Connecticut, please contact the office of Sen. Don Williams, President Pro Tempore, and urge him to allow the 2011 medical marijuana bill to receive a floor vote. You can also contact your own individual Senator via NORML’s ‘Take Action Center’ here.

    111 responses to “Connecticut: Lawmakers Vote To Decriminalize Adult Marijuana Possession”

    1. Ll says:

      Ok, let’s watch CT, and if this state doesn’t descend into a Mad Max scenario, then we know that repealing prohibition isn’t lethal.

    2. Little Gypsy says:

      Hurray for Connecticut! Now hurry up on your medical marijuana bill.

    3. JayCee says:

      Wooooooo…..hooooooo!!!!!!!! Its about time CT changed their laws. As a resident of this state I am glad to know that I won’t get a criminal record if I get caught with a joint. Finally some common sense laws are being put into place! A BIG thanks to Erik Williams for all your hard work and dedication.

    4. Karen says:

      Come on Missouri. I know, we’ll be the last state of the union to follow suit. Congrats Conneticutians!!

    5. Atlanta Toker says:

      At last. A State with good common sense. I’m so proud of the state of Connecticut. You are a leader state in the truest sense. Its hard to go against the propaganda machine in this country. This is the kind of action that makes people proud to be an American again. Thank-You Connecticut, I really appreciate your courage and leadership. Maybe the South will someday decide to be independent once again as well. Thank you so much..

    6. Fred Lunau says:

      Congratulations, CT NORML! I have just finished writing Senator Williams on the 2011 medical marijuana bill.

    7. missintheshed says:

      this is awesome. my question is, how long will it take for employers to change their mode of testing so that those who consume can benefit from this new and awesome law? we all know, that is the million dolla question. what good is one change without the other?………where are saliva testing parameters in all of this? peace to you all…

    8. Lynn says:

      There are now 2 states where you won’t go to jail for personal marijuana use. Here and California. Let’s make it every state.

      [Paul Armentano responds: There are actually additional states that have eliminated criminal penalties for adult marijuana possession, such as Maine and Nebraska. See NORML’s state by state law guide for details: http://www.norml.org/index.cfm?wtm_view=&Group_ID=4516.%5D

    9. Andrew says:

      well i find that great. now if illinois would hurry the hell up… one of my friends got busted for havin some bayou pep… if they leagalize pot tehy better legalize pep spice..