Connecticut partially decriminalized marijuana in 2011 and then legalized the recreational use of it for adults in 2021 but that does not mean that all marijuana use or possession is legal. Marijuana is still illegal at the federal level. In Connecticut, people over the age of 21 may possess up to five ounces (1.5 ounces can be carried on one's person) of cannabis or cannabis products. 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 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
Public Act 21-1, which amends Conn. Gen. Stat. Sec. 21a-279a, provides that individuals 21 years of age or older may legally use and/or possess cannabis (marijuana). Each person's possession limit is 1.5 ounces or 5 ounces in a locked container at the person's home or in a locked glove compartment or trunk of the person's car. Possession of higher quantities can be either an infraction (fine) or misdemeanor, which is a criminal offense.
Juveniles (under the age of 18)
A person under the age of 18 who is caught with less than five ounces of cannabis shall, for the first two times, receive a written warning and may be referred to a youth services bureau or other services, and shall be prosecuted in as a juvenile delinquent (in juvenile court) for third and subsequent viiolations. A person under the age of 18 who possesses five ounces or more of cannabis, shall be prosecuted as a delinquent.
Young Adults (18 and over but under 21)
Individuals who are 18 and and over but still not 21 may not legally possess cannabis. While it is not criminal for an underage adult to possess less than five ounces, it is an infraction that carries a $50 fine for a first offense and $150 fine for subsequent offenses in addition to being required to view and sign a statement acknowledging the health effects of cannabis on young people (really). If the quantity of cannabis is greater than five (5) ounces but but less than eight (8), it is an infraction and fine for a first offense and a midemeanor for subsequent offenses. Additionally, a conviction of underage marijuana possession triggers a suspension of drivers’ licenses and privileges in much the same way as if they were in possession of alcohol underage. Sec. 14-111e 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. Although it is best to plead not guilty and contest marijuana tickets, you can still avoid the suspension if you paid the ticket. Read here about how we can reopen your case to stop and fight a suspension that has already been imposed.
Additionally, due to marijuana's federal classification, a ticket, even though not criminal in Connecticut, can have federal consequences, such as for immigration, firearms and security matters, whether you are a minor or an adult.