The possession of marijuana will now be punished just with fines. The first offense cost $150. Subsequent offenses will draw penalties from $200 to $500, with $500 being the cap.
Previously, first-time offense fines were as high as $1,000 and subsequence offenses were as high as $3,000.
Governor Dannel P. Malloy, who supports the legislation, wrote the following emailed statement after the House passed the bill (via the Hartford Courant):
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 said in a statement emailed to reporters moments after the vote was tallied.
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. 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.
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. 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.