Connecticut Marijuana Business & Law Guide
To some degree, and when compared to non-decriminalized states like Florida or Montana, Connecticut’s penalties for marijuana possession could be considered decriminalized in Connecticut. Anyone caught with less than a 1/2 ounce of pot will be charged with a simply civil penalty–no jail time and a $150 or $500 fine (first and second offense fines, respectively).
A possible one-year prison sentence and a $1000 is given to individuals found in possession of 1/2 to four ounces of pot. If you are convicted of a second offense of this nature, you might be spending the next five years of your life in state prison, in addition to paying a $3000 fine. Selling or cultivating any amount of pot in Connecticut is a felony, with a first conviction of possessing less than one kilogram with intent to distribute carrying a seven-year prison sentence and a $25,000 fine. Getting arrested a second time for selling this much pot doubles your prison sentence–and quadruples your fine.
In Connecticut, it is considered a civil infraction if you are caught with any type of paraphernalia that is used to smoke, grow or sell pot, incorporating a fine of $300 but not jail time. However, if you happen to be within 1500 feet of a school, daycare center or public housing project and are found to have paraphernalia in your possession, you will not only be fined but may receive one year in jail.
Driving while under the influence of pot is a misdemeanor incurring a fine of at least $500 but not more than $1000. There is a 48-hour, minimum mandatory jail sentence for first time offenders who must also complete 100 hours of community service. In addition, you could have your driver’s license suspended for up to 12 months.
Connecticut’s Medical Marijuana Program
In October of 2012, Public Act 12-55, or An Act Concerning the Palliative Use (of Marijuana) went into effect as a result of Governor Dan Malloy previously signing the act in June. This law makes it legal for people with “debilitating medical conditions” to use medical marijuana. Written certification by a doctor is needed before medical marijuana patients can register with Connecticut’s Department of Consumer Protection, the agency responsible for providing identification cards to patients qualifying for the program.CLICK TO DOWNLOAD PUBLIC ACT 12-55 PDF
Stipulations of Public Act 12-55 and recent amendments include the following:
- Patients and/or caregivers are permitted to have a one-month supply of useable pot available at any given time.
- People who wish to become medical marijuana producers can apply for a license on the Department of Consumer Protection. Applicants must pay a non-refundable application fee of $25,000, a registration fee of $75,000 and a yearly renewal fee of $75,00.
- Medical marijuana patients must be diagnosed by a professional medical doctor with one or more of the following disorders: HIV/AIDS, epilepsy, Crohn’s disease, multiple sclerosis, PTSD or other conditions approved by the DCP.
- According to Connecticut’s Department of Consumer Protection website, the agency plans to award producer (dispensary) licenses to individuals they believe have the ability to succeed as the operator of a dispensary.
- Dispensaries must have one licensed pharmacist onsite during operational hours.
- Local city councils have complete authority over deciding if a dispensary is allowed to open within its city limits.
- The DCP does not restrict the number of plants a producer can cultivate and process. Producers will need to determine the amount of pot they need to cultivate in order to accommodate the demands of medical marijuana customers.
State law prohibits medical marijuana patients from cultivating their own pot. Until enough dispensaries have been established in Connecticut, patients have been given a temporary registration allowing them to use and possess medical marijuana even though the methods they employ to obtain their pot may be illegal under Connecticut’s current cannabis laws.
Tax stamps are state-issued stamps that must be purchased and placed on any contraband possessed by medical marijuana patients. Failing to affix the stamp on pipes, baggies or cultivation devices could result in the patient receiving a fine or sanction.
An interesting side note about Connecticut’s Marijuana Tax Stamps concerns the attempt by the U.S. Congress in the 1930s to prohibit pot possession and use. Originally called the Marijuana Tax Act (1937), this act required that individuals must stamp marijuana and related products or suffer arrest and imprisonment. However, Congress never issued any tax stamps, which left people to decide for themselves whether they wanted to risk being arrested for possession.
Currently, Connecticut is reviewing license applications and hopes to have 10 dispensaries operating within the state by the end of 2014. With nearly 500 patients registered with the DCP, the necessity for expediting issuance of dispensary licenses is evident to state lawmakers, who are actively urging the DCP to pursue review of all license applications.
Video on Connecticut Medical Marijuana
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