What Does the Connecticut Marijuana Legalization Mean for the State?

marijuana legalization

On July 1, 2021, Connecticut’s marijuana legalization law went into effect. But that doesn’t mean you can smoke weed anytime, anywhere. Here’s what you need to know about CT recreational marijuana use.

When is Marijuana Legal in Connecticut?

On June 22, 2021, Governor Ned Lamont signed Senate Bill 1201, Connecticut’s marijuana legalization legislation. But like most bills, this one did not go into effect right away. In fact, some portions of the new recreational marijuana law won’t become effective for years. Here are the dates you need to know.

Medical Marijuana Usage

Connecticut legalized medical marijuana use in 2012, and has expanded the list of qualifying medical conditions several times since. Adults and children with debilitating medical conditions can currently register for a medical marijuana certificate. However, because of the anticipated increase in demand, Connecticut’s Department of Consumer Protection has temporarily reduced the amount of medical marijuana a patient can receive to 2.5 ounces per month unless a higher dose is prescribed by a certifying doctor or registered nurse.

Recreational Marijuana and Adult-Use Cannabis

On July 1, 2021, the first marijuana legalization provisions took effect. The possession of small amounts of cannabis by adults over age 21 is now legal.

Retail Sales of Cannabis

Products containing tetrahydrocannabinol (TCH), the intoxicating chemical in cannabis, can only be sold by licensed retailers. It will take time for the state to set up the licenses needed for the commercial cultivation, manufacture, and sale of cannabis. In its press release about marijuana legalization, the Governor’s Office said it aims to begin retail sales by the end of 2022.

Home-Based Cannabis Grow Operations

If you can’t buy cannabis in a store, can you grow marijuana at home? State medical marijuana patients will be able to set up home-based cannabis grow operations for up to 6 plants (3 mature and 3 immature) starting on October 1, 2021. All other residents will have to wait until July 1, 2023 to grow their own weed.

Minors Under Age 21

It is still illegal for minors under 21 years old to possess or use marijuana. Juveniles who lie or use a fake ID to get cannabis could be charged with a Class D misdemeanor. Adults can also be charged with misdemeanors related to the sale of cannabis to minors.

What Marijuana Legalization Means for Connecticut

Recreational marijuana use is now legal in 19 states across the country. But Connecticut’s laws, just like most other states, have limits on when, where, and how you use the intoxicating drug.

How Much Cannabis Can an Adult Possess?

An adult over age 21 can possess up to 1.5 ounces of cannabis on their person, and 5 ounces in their homes, or locked in their vehicle’s trunk or glove box.

Where Can You Use Marijuana?

As a general rule, under the new Connecticut marijuana law, you can use cannabis and hemp products anywhere you can smoke a tobacco cigarette. You can use it in your home, but not in restaurants, at partially enclosed bus shelters, on school property, in state or federal parks, or on state beaches and waters.

What Are the New Laws Against Drugged Driving?

You also can’t use cannabis if you plan on driving afterward. The law significantly strengthened Connecticut’s impaired driving laws. Police will now be trained in Advanced Roadside Impaired Driving Enforcement (ARIDE), designed to detect and prevent drugged driving.

Is My Job Still a Drug-Free Workplace?

The new law also doesn’t prevent employers from creating drug-free workplaces. That means your boss can still fire you if you come to work high or use cannabis on-site. However, in most cases, your employer can’t control what you do on your own time. Some industries require businesses to follow federal law -- where marijuana is still considered a Schedule I controlled substance. In all other cases, a positive drug test for THC isn’t enough to make you lose your job.

What if I Have a Criminal Record for Possession or Sale of Marijuana?

One of the more promising parts of the Connecticut marijuana legalization laws is that certain cannabis-related convictions occurring between January 1, 2000 and October 1, 2015, will soon be automatically erased. Other residents with a criminal record related to the possession or sale of marijuana may petition to have their convictions expunged.

Marijuana Odor and Police Searches

There is one aspect of the new Connecticut marijuana laws that is easy to overlook, but could mean a lot in defending future criminal cases. Until now, police could justify a search of a person’s pockets, home, or vehicle by saying they smelled marijuana plants or burnt pot. Once the search began it could result in charges for anything from illegal possession of firearms to drug crimes. As of July 1, 2021, the odor of cannabis can no longer form the probable cause or reasonable suspicion needed for police to start their search. Police will need something more to justify interfering with Connecticut residents’ constitutional rights against illegal search and seizure.

Get Help Understanding Connecticut Marijuana Laws

Based in Fairfield, Connecticut, The Lebedevitch Law Firm helps Connecticut residents facing drug charges for possessing marijuana or drug paraphernalia in Fairfield and New Haven counties. We understand the new cannabis laws, and what they mean for those facing charges. We can help you defend against drug convictions, expunge your record, and take full advantage of the Connecticut marijuana legislation as it comes into effect. Contact us for a free phone or video conference consultation.

Categories: Criminal Defense