Saturday, June 04, 2011

Connecticut Senate votes to reduce marijuana penalties

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A welcome little show of leniency from the Land of Steady Habits:

HARTFORD, Conn.—The Connecticut Senate narrowly approved legislation on Saturday that decriminalizes the possession of small amounts of marijuana.

The measure passed after Democratic Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman broke an 18-to-18 tie vote as the president of the state Senate. It now moves to the House of Representatives for final legislative action.


Under the bill, possession of less than a half-ounce of marijuana would no longer be a misdemeanor. Instead, it would result in a $150 fine for a first offense and a fine ranging from $200 to $500 for subsequent offenses. Those under 21 years old would face a 60-day driver's license suspension, similar to the existing penalty for possessing alcohol.

Under current law, possession of marijuana is a misdemeanor, punishable by a possible jail term and larger fines: $1,000 for a first offense and $3,000 for subsequent offenses.

The bill also requires anyone 18 years old or younger who is caught with less than a half-ounce to be referred to the state's juvenile courts.

I wouldn’t exactly call it “decriminalization” when those caught with minute amounts of pot still get slapped with hefty (though no longer ridiculously steep) fines, but any move to get drug use off of citizens’ criminal records is a welcome one.

(via @todayspolitics)