Consequences of Getting a Medical Card in Connecticut

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Benefits of Having a Medical Marijuana Card in Connecticut

There are several benefits to owning a Connecticut medical marijuana card. These benefits range from legal protection for possessing cannabis to access to a greater variety of marijuana products.

Legal Protection

You can avoid facing criminal penalties for possession in Connection if you have a medical marijuana card issued by the (DCP) Department of Consumer Protection in the state. Although recreational marijuana is legal in the state, medical marijuana patients enjoy better legal protection as they can easily present a medical marijuana card when stopped by law enforcement officers for marijuana possession or use. Note, however, that the protection only exists for purchasing or possessing marijuana within the stipulated limits under Connecticut medical marijuana laws.

Therefore, Connecticut medical marijuana cardholders are advised always to carry their medical marijuana cards when traveling within the state. For verification purposes, they may also hold a state-issued ID, such as a Connecticut driver's license. If you are caught possessing more than 1.5 ounces of marijuana in public without a Connecticut medical marijuana card, you may be charged with a misdemeanor punishable by a 1-year imprisonment term and up to a $2,000 fine.

Lower Prices

If you own a Connecticut medical marijuana card, you can make significant savings on medical marijuana purchases as the state exempts medical marijuana products from the sales and use tax and the municipal cannabis tax. This provision allows medical marijuana patients to save up to 20% on marijuana purchases in certain Connecticut municipalities. Recreational marijuana buyers are subject to the state’s 6.35% sales tax, a 3% municipality-imposed sales tax, and a tax calculated on THC content that costs approximately 10-15% of the sale price. Some medical marijuana dispensaries also offer financial assistance to medical marijuana cardholders to support their treatment, making medical marijuana even cheaper for cardholders. These forms of assistance are less available for non-cardholders.

Higher Purchase and/or Possession Limits

If you have a Connecticut medical marijuana card, you can carry larger quantities of marijuana than non-cardholders. According to the state's medical marijuana law, medical marijuana cardholders are allowed to carry up to 5 ounces of marijuana flower or its equivalent. By contrast, non-cardholders can only carry up to 1.5 ounces in public even though they are allowed to possess up to 5 ounces of marijuana in a locked glove box or container at home.

Greater Variety

The Connecticut medical marijuana card affords greater product variety for cardholders, with no potency restrictions stipulated under Connecticut’s medical marijuana program. Non-cardholders are limited to no more than 30% THC for cannabis flowers and up to 60% THC for other cannabis products. Also, medical marijuana cardholders are allowed to purchase marijuana products in the form of pills, tablets, capsules, suppositories, and sublinguals. These forms of marijuana products are not available to individuals who do not have Connecticut medical marijuana cards.

Higher Cultivation Limits

Although recreational marijuana users can grow the same number of marijuana plants (3 mature and 3 immature cannabis plants) at home, non-cardholders must be 21 or older to conduct such operations. However, if you are a medical marijuana cardholder, you can begin cultivating marijuana at 18.

Access for Minors

Connecticut medical marijuana cards make cannabis accessible to persons aged 18 or older. Hence, minors can purchase and possess cannabis legally without fear of legal repercussions. If you do not have a medical marijuana card, you must be 21 or older to possess cannabis legally. Minors who are under 18 can still access marijuana through their caregivers. There are no caregiver provisions for non-medical marijuana cardholders.

Reciprocity

Holding a Connecticut medical marijuana card provides a distinct advantage through reciprocity provisions, allowing cardholders to leverage their medical cannabis authorization across state lines. The reciprocity feature ensures that cardholders visiting other states with similar programs can access medical marijuana dispensaries and obtain cannabis products legally. This allows Connecticut medical marijuana cardholders who frequently travel or reside part-time in other states to continue marijuana use for treating approved conditions. You may be able to use a Connecticut medical marijuana card in states such as Nevada, Maine, Oklahoma, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Arkansas, Rhode Island, and Utah.

Employment Protections

Under Connecticut law, employees and job applicants who use medical marijuana legally or possess Connecticut-issued medical marijuana cards generally are not subject to employment discrimination on that basis.

The Connecticut's Palliative Use of Marijuana Act (PUMA) provides employment protections for medical cannabis cardholders in the state. PUMA prohibits Connecticut employers from refusing to hire, terminate, penalize, or threaten an employee because they hold medical marijuana cards or care for someone who does.

An employer may not refuse to hire a job applicant who tests positive for a pre-employment drug test because the applicant is a medical marijuana user. According to the Connecticut federal district court ruling in the Noffsinger v. SSC Niantic Operating Company, LLC dba Bride Brook Nursing & Rehabilitation Center case, it is a violation of Connecticut medical marijuana law to refuse to hire an applicant due to a positive pre-employment drug test.

Note, however, that nothing in the PUMA restricts an employer's right to prohibit the use of marijuana during employment hours or to discipline an employee for being under the influence of marijuana during work hours.

Downsides of Getting a Medical Marijuana Card in Connecticut

You stand the risk of losing out on federal privileges if you own a medical marijuana card in Connecticut.

Firearm Prohibition

You may have to choose between either license if you plan on obtaining a Connecticut medical marijuana card and a firearms license in the state. Since marijuana is a Schedule I Substance federally, owning a Connecticut medical marijuana card prevents you from obtaining a Connecticut Pistol Permit. Note that getting a CTPP is a requirement for carrying firearms in Connecticut.

Also, according to a letter sent by the ATF to all Federal Firearms Licensees (FFLs) in the United States, no FFL may sell firearms to anyone considered an unlawful marijuana user under federal law. The ATF classifies marijuana users, even in states where the drug has been legalized, as unlawful marijuana users.

Hence, a key downside to obtaining a Connecticut medical marijuana card is potentially losing your gun rights.

Driving Restrictions

Connecticut, like many states, does not have a specific legal marijuana blood limit for drivers. Instead, the state relies on the observation of law enforcement officers to determine impairment. If an officer believes a driver is impaired, they may carry out field sobriety tests and request a blood test. If there are already reasons for a law enforcement officer to suspect that a driver is impaired while driving, possessing a medical marijuana card may lead the officer to insist on further tests to confirm the suspicion.

Connecticut medical marijuana card

holders face further driving restrictions when applying for or maintaining commercial driving licenses (CDLs). Since the federal government classifies marijuana as a Schedule I controlled substance, the use of marijuana, even for medical purposes, is prohibited for CDL holders. Therefore, individuals with a medical marijuana card in Connecticut face disqualification or termination when obtaining or maintaining a CDL.

The consequences of drugged driving in Connecticut can be severe. If a driver is found to be operating a vehicle under the influence of marijuana, they may face criminal charges, including fines, license suspension, and even imprisonment. Connecticut takes impaired driving seriously, and law enforcement actively enforces laws related to driving under the influence of drugs.

Annual Renewal

Maintaining a Connecticut medical marijuana card comes with the inconvenience of renewing the card every year. Also, a cardholder must be recertified by a physician prior to renewal to avoid a lapse in registration. A cardholder's certification expires one year from the date the certifying physician certified the patient through the DCP's online registration system.

Although medical marijuana certification renewals can be completed via telemedicine, renewing the medical marijuana certification and the medical marijuana card still costs time and effort. While the Connecticut DCP no longer requires payment to renew medical marijuana cards, medical marijuana cardholders still have to pay consultation fees to renew their certifications. They may have to part with up to $200 in consultation fees for recertification.

Federal Prohibitions

Connecticut MMJ card holders cannot apply for federal employment owing to the prohibition of marijuana use or possession under federal law. The CSA (Controlled Substances Act) classifies marijuana as a Schedule I controlled substance, and Schedule I substances are considered to have a high potential for abuse and no currently accepted medical use.

As a result of the CSA, federal agencies are prohibited from hiring or retaining employees who use marijuana, regardless of their state's laws. This means that even if you have a valid MMJ card from Connecticut, you cannot be employed by the federal government if you use marijuana. Also, if you are a federal employee, you risk losing your job and possibly face sterner punishments if you fail a drug test, even with a medical marijuana card.

Individuals living in federally subsidized housing in Connecticut cannot cultivate marijuana at home. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has a strict policy banning the cultivation of marijuana in any HUD-assisted housing. The HUD policy is based on the federal prohibition on marijuana cultivation. The CSA makes it a federal crime to cultivate marijuana, regardless of state law. If a tenant is caught cultivating marijuana in their unit, the tenant may be evicted. The housing authority may also report the tenant to law enforcement for violating federal law.

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