Connecticut's historically liberal legislature just keeps rolling.
The state's House of Representatives capped a lengthy debate with a 90 to 57 vote in favor of a bill that would make possession of a half ounce or less of marijuana subject to a fine, rather than criminal charges. Governor Dannel Molloy pledged to sign the bill once it reached his desk.
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,'' Malloy wrote in a statement. There is no question that the state's criminal justice resources could be more effectively utilized for convicting, incarcerating and supervising violent and more serious offenders.
Legislators in favor of the bill also offered an economic justification, arguing that decriminalization would conserve resources otherwise used to prosecute offenders while earning the state money through fines. The legislature's Office of Fiscal Analysis supported this contention, finding in an analysis that the shift could net the state about $2 million annually.
The bill's passage advances the thesis of an article in the New York Times today that described Connecticut's most activist, liberal legislative session in memory given the passage of measures such as tax increases, a guarantee of paid sick leave for workers, protections for transgendered people.
Connecticut would become the 14th state to decriminalize marijuana, according to the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, joining Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, Ohio and Oregon.