Connecticut Marijuana Laws
Use of weed or pot is gaining popularity as states across the country are relaxing the penalties for possession of marijuana. Before you light up, be sure you understand Connecticut’s marijuana laws, and what could happen if you are convicted.
Is Marijuana Legal in Connecticut?
In many parts of New England, medical and recreational marijuana use has been legalized or decriminalized. Despite the relaxed laws in the surrounding states, Connecticut still has very strict laws regarding marijuana and paraphernalia possession. If you don’t understand the limits of Connecticut marijuana laws, a simple recreational activity could turn into a misdemeanor or felony conviction.
Penalties for Possessing Recreational Marijuana in Connecticut
A marijuana arrest in Connecticut can lead to steep penalties. If you are charged with possession of marijuana, the potential consequences depend on how much you had, where you had it, and what you were trying to do with it. Hash and marijuana concentrates are treated the same as marijuana leaves.
|Charge||First Offense||Second Offense|
|Possession less than ½ ounce (Civil Infraction)||Fine of $150||Fine of $200 - 500|
|Possession of ½ to 4 ounces (Misdemeanor)||1 year in jail and $1,000 fine||5 years in jail and $3,000 fine|
|Possession of 4 ounces or more (Felony)||5 years in jail and $2,000 fine||10 years in jail and $5,000 fine|
|Distribution / Cultivation of less than 1 kg (Felony)||7 years in jail and $25,000 fine||15 years in jail and $100,000 fine|
|Distribution / Cultivation of at least 1 kg (Felony)||5 - 20 years in jail and $25,000 fine||10 - 25 years in jail and $100,000 fine|
Marijuana Paraphernalia LawsThere are also laws that add to these penalties. Possession or sale of marijuana within 1,500 feet of an elementary or middle school, public housing project, or daycare center will add 3 years to your sentence. If you are a minor or you sell to a minor, conviction carries an additional 2 years in jail.
It is also a civil infraction or misdemeanor to own marijuana paraphernalia, including pipes, roach clips, cigarette papers, and bongs. If the police find you with these devices, the penalties for a conviction are:
|Possession with intent to ingest less than ½ ounce (Criminal Infraction)||$300 fine|
|Possession with intent to cultivate, distribute, or ingest more than ½ ounce (Misdemeanor)||3 months in jail and $500 fine|
|Distribution of paraphernalia (Misdemeanor)||1 year in jail and $2,000 penalty|
Does CT Allow Medical Marijuana?If the offense happened within 1500 feet of an elementary or middle school there is an additional penalty of 1 year in jail.
Despite its harsh stance on recreational marijuana use, Connecticut does make an exception for “palliative” or medical marijuana. Since 2012, patients with a debilitating medical condition have been able to get a registration certificate allowing them to receive medical marijuana from a licensed dispensary. The approved debilitating conditions include:
- HIV or AIDS
- Multiple sclerosis
- Spinal nerve damage (with spasms)
- Wasting Syndrome
- Crohn’s disease
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Medical marijuana patients may only ever possess one month’s supply as directed by their physician. There are limits to where they may use their medication and who can help them as a caregiver.
Will the Police Take Your Weed?
Even if you only have a small amount of recreational marijuana (less than ½ ounce) and are only facing a civil infraction, the police are still legally required to seize and destroy all marijuana and drug paraphernalia they find on your person or in your presence at the time of arrest. If the police find you with marijuana and you don’t have permission to use it for medicinal purposes, you should expect them to take the cannabis, test it, and then destroy it.
Defenses to Connecticut Marijuana Charges
If you are facing possession of marijuana charges, a conviction will follow you for at least 7 years. A marijuana conviction can make it harder for you to rent a home, find a job, or qualify for a loan. That’s why it is important to carefully consider any defenses you may have before you enter a guilty plea.
Like many other drug charges, marijuana charges are vulnerable to defenses based on how the police do their job. Depending on the circumstances, your attorney may be able to argue that the police improperly searched you, that the testing they used to prove you were intoxicated or the substance they found was marijuana was flawed, or that they violated your civil rights during your arrest. You may also be able to avoid a marijuana conviction if:
- You did not know the marijuana was in your possession
- You weren’t the one in control of the marijuana
- You had a medical marijuana registration certificate
An experienced marijuana defense attorney can review your situation to identify holes in the prosecution’s case. This can help you negotiate a better plea agreement, or even avoid a conviction altogether.
Based in Fairfield, Connecticut, The Lebedevitch Law Firm works closely with people facing charges for possessing marijuana or drug paraphernalia in Fairfield and New Haven counties. We will help you identify your options, build your defenses, and avoid facing a lifetime of consequences. Contact us for a free phone or video conference consultation.