ONE TOKE OVER THE STATE LINE (MASSACHUSETTS MARIJUANA IN CONNECTICUT)
Sept. 10, 2019
Marijuana became legal for recreational purposes in Massachusetts in 2016. For reasons unknown, Connecticut's state legislature decided it did not want an easy revenue stream and failed to fully legalize the partially legal substance. The legislators might not have noticed that the Bay State shares our northern border and some of our highways. Whoever put up the billboard in New Haven that gives the exact distance to the legal dispensary in Greenfield figured it out.
Years ago the state of New Hampshire opened its own liquor stores and put several on their borders. Liquor is cheaper up there and its sale supplies the state with considerable tax revenue. It is not unheard of for people from Connecticut to drive up to New Hampshire and buy wine and liquor for a wedding.
Now Masschusetts should not be encouraging people from outside its borders to buy marijuana to take home. That would be illegal at the state and federal level. What trouble could you get into for buying pot in Massachusetts and taking it back to Connecticut (or into any other state where it is illegal) if you were to get caught?
At the state level, possession (by a person who does not have a golden ticket, I mean a medical card) of more than a half-ounce is a misdemeanor, a crime, punishable by jail and fines. Less than a half-ounce is an infraction, which is not a crime. Any type of distribution (whether by sale or not) is a felony regardless of the quantity. Taking orders for your friends when you shop in Massachusetts would fit that definition. Marijuana is still a federal controlled substance, so you could be charged federally, especially if you take it across state lines or onto a common carrier.
So what should you do if you just happen to stop in Massachusetts and buy some of the local crop? Well, you'll have to make sure to follow Massachusetts laws about consumption (i.e. where you decide to use it). You should also not drive while high. That would be a DUI because it is illegal to operate under the influence of alcohol or any drug. It would also be advisable that, while you consume in Massachusetts, to not do it in a way that would smell up your car or clothes. The smell of marijuana during a traffic stop is often enough for police to attempt to search a car. A used pipe or other piece of paraphernalia would also be a problem.
Marijuana will probably be fully legal in Connecticut in the next couple of years. Until then, it is best to contact your legislator to change the law rather than take the chance of violating it. If you happen to caught possessing marijuana in Connecticut and charged, you should contact an attorney, preferably me.