Legislation that makes possession of less than half an ounce of marijuana a civil violation heads to Connecticut Governor Dannel P. Malloy’s (D) desk Tuesday after being approved by the state House.
Malloy already said he would sign it into law, making Connecticut the 14th state to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana. The state Senate passed the measure Saturday.
“Final approval of this legislation accepts the reality that the current law does more harm than good – both in the impact it has on people’s lives and the burden it places on police, prosecutors and probation officers of the criminal justice system,” he said in a statement. “Let me make it clear – we are not legalizing the use of marijuana. In modifying this law, we are recognizing that the punishment should fit the crime, and acknowledging the effects of its application.”
The new law makes first offense possession of a small amount of marijuana or paraphernalia punishable by a $150 fine. Unlike under previous Connecticut law, violators will receive a citation rather than being arrested. A second offense results in a $200 to $500 fine, and a third results in mandatory drug addiction treatment.
“Modification of this law will now put Connecticut in line with the laws of two of our neighboring states, New York and Massachusetts, and a total of thirteen states across the country with similar statutes,” Malloy added. “I applaud the General Assembly in their passage of this legislation and will sign it into law. I would also like to specifically thank State Senator Martin Looney, who first introduced this legislation in 2009, for his support and advocacy of this issue.”