Pot Politics: Bill Would Decriminalize a Tiny Bit
By Katie Heller
Lawmakers are hearing testimony Friday on a bill to decriminalize marijuana in Connecticut.
Senate Bill 349 would reclassify possession of minor amounts of marijuana and drug paraphernalia from a misdemeanor to an infraction.
Under current state law, first-time possesion of small amounts of pot is punishable by up to one year in jail and $1000 fine. Senate Bill 349 would amend Connecticut law so that adults who posses one ounce of marijuana or less will be issued tickets and face fines instead of criminal charges.
Supporters of the bill believe it could save the state millions of dollars and would have no effect on the use of drugs in Connecticut. Many supporters believe the court system is needlessly clogged with these types of cases.
Opponents of the bill believe it could increase demand on the criminal justice system and that it could send the wrong message to young people.
Thirteen states have passed similar marijuana decriminalization laws.
This bill has had a sordid history -- In May, a similar proposal came before the legislative committee but it died in committee after a Sen. Tori Boucher, R-Wilton, successfully defeated the bill with a half-hour filibuster. Sen. Wilton, had been the subject of an email threat for her opposition to the bill.