**Can You Smoke Weed in Public in Connecticut? **
Connecticut has legalized the use of marijuana for both medical and recreational purposes. The legalization of medical marijuana came first, with the passage of HB 5389 in 2012. Recreational marijuana was legalized in 2021 following the passage of SB 1201. Medical marijuana patients or their caregivers are allowed to purchase 5 ounces. of marijuana within a 30-day period from licensed dispensaries. Medical marijuana patients are allowed to grow three immature and three mature marijuana plants in their homes, so long as they ensure that the plants are kept away from persons other than the patient and caregiver. Qualifying patients and their caregivers are permitted to grow no more than 12 marijuana plants within the confines of their homes.
Beginning in July 2021, SB 1201 allowed adults in Connecticut to possess no more than 1.5 ounces of marijuana and to keep up to 5 ounces. in a secure container such as a glove compartment or vehicle trunk. From July 1, 2023, adult residents of Connecticut can grow up to six cannabis plants, of which no more than three may be mature. Households with more than one adult can grow up to 12 plants. All home cultivation must be conducted indoors in secluded and secured areas. Connecticut law prohibits the movement of marijuana outside state lines.
In May 2022, HB 5329 was signed by Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont. Section 2 of the Bill includes a provision prohibiting Connecticut residents from gifting cannabis unless the recipients are family members or friends. Even when cannabis gifting takes place in a familial or friendly relationship, there must be no money or favors exchanged in return for the cannabis. Cannabis gifting involves shops selling gifts or trivia items to individuals and giving them cannabis as ostensible souvenirs. It may also take the form of supposedly charitable donations or entry fees to events for which cannabis is given in return. This practice typically occurs in jurisdictions where cannabis is legal for medical but not yet for recreational purposes. Violators of this provision will pay a fine of $1,000 for each offense and face an administrative hearing held by the Commissioner of Revenue Services. This provision legally took effect on July 1, 2022.
HB 5329 also contains a provision mandating Connecticut dispensaries intending to obtain hybrid-retail licenses to obtain approval for their workforce development plans from the Social Equity Council. Workforce development plans entail providing training and employment to individuals from areas of Connecticut that have been disproportionately affected by the enforcement of rescinded laws on cannabis. Section 8 of HB 5329 took effect in October 2022. It stipulated the kinds of advertising that cannabis establishments were allowed to use. Section 9 of HB 5329 gave municipalities in Connecticut the authority to pass ordinances prohibiting cannabis establishments within their jurisdictions and regulating the location and operating hours of cannabis establishments.
A 2023 change in Connecticut’s cannabis laws permits home cannabis cultivation for adults aged 21 or older. This change follows from a 2021 legislation that reduced the penalties for those growing cannabis at home for recreational use. Previously, Connecticut only allowed qualified medical patients to grow marijuana at home.
The Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act (MORE) was passed in April 2022 by the U.S. House of Representatives. Formally known as HR 3617, MORE has been forwarded to the Senate for deliberation. The MORE Act contains a proposal to delist cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act. The CSA includes cannabis as a Schedule 1 prohibited drug, alongside heroin and LSD.
Another proposed change to federal law contained in the MORE Act is a proposal in Section 11 to replace the current use of the words marihuana and marijuana in official documents with the word cannabis. Under the MORE Act, there is also a proposal to expunge convictions for federal cannabis offenses, precisely if these offenses did not involve the use of violence. The MORE Act proposes to remove the possibility of arrest, prosecution, or imprisonment for simple marijuana possession in the United States.
Cannabis refers to products or derivatives from the Cannabis sativa, Cannabis indica, or Cannabis ruderalis species of plants. In Connecticut, cannabis is the legal term for marijuana. It is known for the psychoactive effects of its major cannabinoid, tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. When consumed by an individual, THC and other cannabinoids react with the body in various ways. Cannabis can help to reduce chronic pain, improve appetite, reduce eye pressure in glaucoma patients, and restore bone health in patients with bone-related ailments. Common medical cannabis products in Connecticut include oils, tinctures, distillates, beverages, and edibles
Cannabis was made illegal under federal law when Congress passed the Controlled Substances Act in 1970. It was held at the time that cannabis had no medical value, was liable to be abused, and its use could lead to serious addiction in consumers. Cannabis was legalized in Connecticut in 2012 for the medical use of qualifying patients who suffer from a number of debilitating and chronic conditions. Individuals who want to gain access to medical cannabis must apply to the Department of Consumer Protection and obtain medical marijuana ID cards granting them or their caregivers the right to purchase cannabis products from licensed dispensaries. Connecticut law also gives individuals the right to petition the Department of Consumer Protection if they wish to access medical marijuana for a condition not yet approved by the state.
Adult-use marijuana became legal in Connecticut in July 2021, but sales did not begin until January 10, 2023. In order to legally purchase cannabis in Connecticut, an individual must be an adult aged 21, or a qualifying patient or registered caregiver issued a medical marijuana card by the Department of Consumer Protection. Only licensed dispensaries are legally permitted to sell cannabis products in Connecticut.
Under the provisions of SB 1201, all hybrid cannabis dispensaries in Connecticut must have a licensed pharmacist on their premises to attend to qualifying medical marijuana patients. Sales of medical marijuana to qualifying patients or their caregivers must be recorded by the dispensary pharmacist in the electronic Prescription Monitoring and Reporting Program developed by the Department of Consumer Protection.
The possession of less than half an ounce of marijuana is not treated as a crime in Connecticut. A first time offender found in possession of half an ounce of marijuana will be fined $150. A second time offender will be fined between $200-$500.
The possession of more than 1.5 ounces of marijuana in public in Connecticut is now charged as a misdemeanor. This attracts a prison sentence of one year and/or a fine of not more than $2,000.
An individual under 21 but over18 years found in possession of more than 5 ounces of cannabis will be fined $500 and made to sign a document listing the health risks of cannabis consumption on young persons. A repeat offender will be charged with committing a Class D misdemeanor.
The possession of less than 1 kg of marijuana with the intent to distribute attracts a penalty of up to seven years in prison and a fine of up to $25,000. This applies to first time offenders. Second time offenders face a prison term of up to 15 years and a fine of up to $100,000.
The possession of more than 1 kg of marijuana with the intent to distribute attracts a prison sentence of between 5 and 20 years. Second time offenders face a prison term of between 10 and 25 years.
The distribution of marijuana by an individual over the age of 18 to another individual under 18 will attract a mandatory two-year sentence in addition to any other prison sentence to which the offender is liable. If the offense occurs within 1,500 feet of a daycare facility, public housing, or elementary school, the offender will have three years added to the initial prison sentence.
The cultivation of marijuana at home will become legal for adults in Connecticut by July 2023. Until then, the cultivation of marijuana at home is illegal. A first time offender found cultivating three mature and three immature marijuana plants will be issued a written warning. A second time offender found cultivating a similar number of plants will be fined up to $500. A third time offender will be charged with committing a misdemeanor.
An individual found with paraphernalia in connection with less than half an ounce of marijuana with the intent to use such for ingestion, distribution, or cultivation is charged with committing a civil infraction. No prison term applies. The individual will have their driving license withdrawn for a 60-day period. An individual found with marijuana paraphernalia in connection with more than half an ounce of the substance is charged with committing a Class C misdemeanor. The penalty for this is three months in prison and/or a $500 fine..
An individual found in possession of marijuana paraphernalia within 1,500 feet of a high school or elementary school will receive an additional one year in prison. An individual found in possession of marijuana paraphernalia with the intent to distribute it is charged with committing a Class A misdemeanor, and this attracts a sentence of one year in prison and/or a $2,000 fine.
Although marijuana has now been legalized for both medical and recreational purposes in Connecticut, it is still treated as a Class C misdemeanor to operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of marijuana.
First-time DUI offenders in Connecticut risk a fine of between $500 and $1,000. DUI offenders in Connecticut are required to attend a pretrial program in impaired driving. This consists of 15 sessions of substance abuse treatment.
Individuals arrested and charged with violating Connecticut's marijuana laws can argue that they are either qualifying medical marijuana patients, caregivers, dispensary employees, delivery company employees, research program participants, or medical personnel. They can also hire marijuana attorneys to defend them in court. In the wake of marijuana legalization in Connecticut, such individuals can also argue that they were in possession of marijuana within the legal limit.
Under Connecticut law, any item or property used in the illegal cultivation, manufacture, and distribution of marijuana is liable for forfeiture.
In 2012, the Connecticut House of Representatives passed HB 5389, also known as an Act Concerning the Palliative Use of Marijuana. HB 5389 provided for the establishment of the Connecticut Medical Marijuana Program. Under this Act, individuals who suffer from one of the approved qualifying conditions and have recommendations from their doctors can apply for medical marijuana cards.. HB 5389 gives immunity to registered medical marijuana patients from arrest, prosecution, or harassment from law enforcement. Under the provisions of HB 5389, marijuana was removed from the Schedule 1 list and placed in the Schedule 2 list of controlled substances in Connecticut.
In 2015, a member of the Connecticut House of Representatives proposed HB 5209, which was intended to legalize recreational marijuana use for individuals who are at least 21 years of age. The passage of HB 5450 in 2016 allowed minors resident in Connecticut to qualify for access to medical marijuana. In 2021, SB 1201 was passed into law, granting Connecticut adults 21 years and older the right to use recreational marijuana.
In June 2021, SB 1019 was signed into law by Governor Ned Lamont. It provided for the expungement of convictions for marijuana crimes that have now been abrogated. In December 2022, Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont announced that the state would initiate the process of erasing the marijuana convictions of around 44,000 Connecticut residents by January 2023. The expungements apply to individuals who were convicted of misdemeanor marijuana offenses seven years prior to the law taking effect and equally to individuals who were convicted of Class D and E felonies 10 years prior to the law taking effect.
HB 5329, or Public Act 22-103 of 2022 prohibits cannabis consumers in Connecticut from using cannabis products in public, including the following places: