New law will bring state’s drug laws in line with a dozen other states
Add Connecticut to the growing list of states that are decriminalizing the possession of small amounts of marijuana.
The state’s legislature signed off on a bill Tuesday that would bring Connecticut’s drug laws in line with a dozen or so states across the country – including neighboring New York and Massachusetts – where simple possession is no longer a criminal offense.
Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy has promised to sign the bill as soon as it reaches his desk. The measure would make the possession of a half-once of marijuana or less “akin to receiving a speeding ticket,” the Hartford Courant reports. First-time offenders would face a $150 fine, with subsequent offenses drawing penalties of at least $200 but no more than $500.
Malloy said that passage of the bill “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.”
Unsurprisingly, not everyone was on board with the change.
The most common argument against decriminalization tends to be that pot is a gateway drug that can lead to the use of more harmful drugs. But the new measure also drew criticism from lawmakers who see it as an arbitrary standard set by those hoping to win support for it.
"It can’t be OK if you have 30 marijuana cigarettes and bad if you have 50 marijuana cigarettes,'' said Themis Klarides, a Republican state congresswoman. "It's either bad or it's not bad."