Recreational Marijuana Now Legal in Connecticut

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As of Thursday, it is now legal for adults in Connecticut to possess and even consume small amounts of marijuana.

The new law allows individuals age 21 and older to possess or consume up to 1.5 ounces (42.5 grams) of “cannabis plant material” and up to 5 ounces (141.7 grams) in a locked container in a home or in the trunk or locked glove box in the person’s vehicle. There's a series of fines and other measures for violators, including mandatory referral to youth services bureaus for 2nd-time juvenile offenders.

Also beginning Thursday, the odor of cannabis or burnt cannabis shall not constitute probable cause or a reasonable suspicion for police to stop and/or search any person or their vehicle. However, officers may test for impairment if there's reasonable suspicion the driver and/or passenger are under the influence of marijuana.

With the state legalizing marijuana, employers will have to consider changes to drug policies, though the law still does not allow use of the drug on the clock.

State police said they often were able to find other violations, such as illegal weapons, while searching a vehicle after detecting the odor of pot.

“If you detected the odor of marijuana, essentially that vehicle would be searched for any contraband. But at this point that clearly isn’t the case because you’d be violating someone’s rights,” said Trooper First Class Josue Dorelus.

The Police Officer Standards and Training Council issued a 10-page training bulletin last week to local police chiefs, resident state troopers, training officers and others, outlining the changes in the complicated new law.

Among other things, the bulletin highlights how cannabis and hemp will now be included with tobacco when it comes to locations where smoking is not allowed, ranging from restaurants to partially enclosed bus shelters. The use of cannabis is also prohibited on state lands and waters that are managed by the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.

NBC Connecticut & Associated Press
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