On June 17, 2021, the Connecticut Legislature passed a bill allowing the state to legalize use of cannabis for people 21 years of age or older, which was subsequently signed into law by Governor Ned Lamont on June 22, 2021. As of July 1, 2021, adult use of cannabis is legal in Connecticut.
The new legislation expands the June 2012 legalization of medical marijuana under Governor Dannel P. Malloy’s prior administration.
Senate Bill 1201 legalizes cannabis use for adults over the age of 21 years, limited to no more than 1.54 ounces of cannabis on their person, and no more than 5 ounces in their homes or locked in their car, truck or glove box. Further, all adults age 21 and over will be permitted to grow six cannabis plants indoors within their homes beginning July 1, 2023.
Senate Bill 1201 reduces the penalties for the adult possession of up to 1.5 ounces of marijuana from a criminal misdemeanor (formerly punishable by one year in jail and a $1,000 fine) to a non-criminal infraction, punishable by a $150 fine with no arrest or jail time and no criminal record. The new law similarly reduces penalties for the possession of marijuana paraphernalia. The expungement of minor offenses dealing with cannabis will help many individuals acquire better employment opportunities, which will lead to a growing Connecticut economy.
Criminalization of Cannabis over 1.5 Ounces
Further, although Connecticut has legalized marijuana, the law remains a sliding scale when defining a criminal offense.
Carrying anything over 1.5 ounces for personal use is still illegal, with higher fines for subsequent offenses. A subsequent offense of possession of 1.5 ounces of cannabis is a non-criminal infraction, but the fine rises to $200-$500. A first offense of possession of 1.5 to 4 ounces is a misdemeanor