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Will Conn. Be Next State to Decriminalize Marijuana?

By Cynthia Hsu, Esq. on June 08, 2011 6:45 AM

Will Connecticut decriminalize marijuana? It might be the next state to do so - Connecticut's marijuana laws might be revamped after legislation to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana passed through the Senate.

The next stop for the bill will be the state's House of Representatives where it will receive its final legislative vote, reports the AP.

Proponents of the bill argue that the decriminalization will be a positive effect. Decriminalizing small amounts would allow younger adults who are arrested on possession charges evade a criminal record, which may hurt their chances at a career or at a college, according to the AP.

Other lawmakers are not as convinced. Senate Minority Leader John McKinney voiced his opposition to the bill, citing personal family experiences with his sister's drug addiction, which was accelerated by the use of marijuana. McKinney says his sister's experience with marijuana led her to use other drugs like cocaine, reports the AP.

If the bill passes, however, there will still be penalties for possessing small amounts of marijuana. The bill would only be decriminalizing possession of marijuana of less than half an ounce, which used to be a misdemeanor. Those possessing less than half an ounce of marijuana will be slapped with a $150 fine for the first offense, and fines ranging between $200 and $500 for subsequent offenses. Offenders who are under the age of 21 will also get their license suspended, reports the AP.

The current Connecticut marijuana law is that possession of the drug is a misdemeanor, punishable by jail term and fines that can range between $1,000 and $3,000, according to the AP.

Connecticut would not be the first state to decriminalize marijuana possession. Alaska, California, Colorado, Nebraska, New York, North Carolina, Maine, Minnesota, Ohio and Oregon have all decriminalized the drug, Slate reports. Alaska's decriminalization remains a bit murky.

Of course, like all the other states, if Connecticut decriminalizes marijuana possession it would only be for the small half an ounce possession, the rest of Connecticut's marijuana laws would still be in force. In short, larger possession amounts would still be a crime.

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