Drug Crimes

Connecticut partially decriminalized marijuana in 2011 but that does not mean that all marijuana use or possession is legal. Marijuana is still a prohibited substance, but decriminalization means that the possession of certain quantities does not trigger criminal penalties. Simple possession of higher quantities of marijuana as well as other controlled substances (e.g. cocaine, heroin and opiates, amphetamines, crack, MDMA, LSD, etc.) is now a misdemeanor. Sale--which includes distribution without a sale and possession with intent to sell--is still a felony. Some drug charges carry mandatory prison time. There is a diversionary program for possessory drug offenses, the Pretrial Drug Education and Community Service Program, which if successfully completed, would lead to the dismissal of the charges. 

Marijuana Laws in Connecticut

Conn. Gen. Stat. Sec. 21a-279c provides that a person who possesses or controls less than half an ounce of a cannabis substance shall be fined not more than $150 for a first offense and $200 to $500 for each subsequent offense. In addition to the fines, the police must confiscate the marijuana. Violating this law does not result in a criminal conviction.

Possession of drug paraphernalia is also decriminalized if it relates to a half-ounce or less of marijuana. However, possession of paraphernalia is criminal if used for more than a half-ounce of marijuana or other illegal drugs.

Possession of more than a half-ounce of marijuana is still a crime and exposes a person to higher fines, jail time, and a criminal record. Possession of marijuana within 1500 feet of a school, daycare center, or housing project is a felony that carries mandatory jail time. Additionally, the decriminalization law applies only to the simple possession of marijuana, and not to possession with intent to sell or distribute.

While possession of less than a half-ounce of marijuana is no longer a criminal offense, minors in possession (persons younger than 21 years old) may face suspension of drivers’ licenses and privileges in much the same way as if they were in possession of alcohol underage. Sec. 14-111e (as amended by P.A. 11-71) extends to allow DMV to suspend the driver’s license and/or driving privileges of an underage person convicted of non-criminal marijuana possession for 60 days.

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Federal Law Regarding Marijuana

Importantly, Connecticut laws are not the same as Federal law regarding marijuana. Under federal law, possession of any quantity of marijuana is still a federal offense.

As with all cases, your options depend on the facts of your case. If you contact me, I will listen to the facts of your situation and help you understand options you might not know. For example, there may be issues involving the police’s search and seizure. There may also be programs and alternative dispositions that you can use to avoid the suspension of your driving privileges. If charged with drug possession, you should consult with an attorney to determine and discuss these options.

In addition to marijuana use and possession, Connecticut law regulates and criminalizes possession, use, sale, and distribution of many other controlled substances, including prescription painkillers and bath salts. If you are facing criminal charges for possession, use, or sale of a controlled substance, I can help you understand the nature of the charges in order to protect your rights. Depending on the facts of your case, I may be able to help you avoid jail time.

Drug Crime Attorney in Connecticut

Possession of marijuana or another drug might not seem serious, until it affects your ability to get a job. Attorney Chris DeMatteo has years of experience defending many clients, including minors, charged with possession of marijuana or other drugs. Throughout Connecticut, he has successfully defended drug cases, and he can help you.  Contact Chris for a free consultation.