May 25, 2011

Connecticut Senate Taking Up Bill That Would Decriminalize Marijuana

May 25, 2011
Connecticut cannabis

Connecticut MarijuanaBy Steve Elliott of Toke of the Town

Connecticut lawmakers are taking up a bill that would decriminalize marijuana. The legislation has made its way to the state Senate.

If passed, it would mean that adults caught with less than half an ounce of cannabis would face a penalty similar to a traffic ticket, instead of a criminal charge, reports NBC Connecticut.

The idea of loosening Connecticut’s pot laws is predictably meeting resistance in the Senate among hidebound Republicans and a handful of regressive Democrats.

“The idea that we would decriminalize marijuana is one of the worst ideas I’ve heard in my 13 years in the state Senate,” GOP Senate Minority Leader John McKinney said. (It couldn’t have been as bad an idea as electing this moron.)

Massachusetts voters approved a cannabis decriminalization measure in 2008. Not surprisingly, a few whiny-ass law enforcement officers in Massachusetts have complained that the law was written in a way that has “created serious problems” in “how they can deal with offenders.”

A translation from that cop-speak to civilian-ese is as follows: “We’re really bummed because we can’t harass, arrest and prosecute pot smokers anymore.”

Michael Lawlor, a former state representative and prosecutor who now serves in the Office of Policy and Management, is responsible for crafting the bill which is making its way through the Legislasture.

Lawlor said legislators have learned from what has and has not worked in other states.

“We could simply cut to the chase,” Lawlor said. “If you get caught, you could pay a $100 fine plus fees and costs. If you’re a kid, the penalties are much more severe. If you’re under 21, you’re going to lose your driver’s license for 60 days,” Lawlor said.

There is potential for saving tax money by freeing up resources tied up in prosecutions of low-level marijuana possession cases, according to Lawlor. He said those savings would include court appearances, tying up the time of police, judges, prosecutors, parole officers and public defenders. These cases are often dismissed after all that effort anyway, he said.

Connecticut voters favor decriminalizing marijuana by more than two-to-one, according to a recent Quinnipiac University poll, which showed 65 percent favor decrim, with 32 percent opposed.

Article From Toke of the Town and republished with special permission.


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