[Clarification: The number of arrests in 2011 have been changed to differentiate between tickets and actual arrests.]
Connecticut’s decriminalization of marijuana, which allows police departments to issue fines rather than arrests, has been in effect since July 1. The courts are already dealing with less of a case load due to the new law.
According to the Connecticut Post, there were 4,774 marijuana arrests from July 1-Dec. 1, 2010 for possession of marijuana less than four ounces. With the new law, there have been 1,127 arrests in that same period in 2011. There were nearly 2,000 tickets issued.
Under the old law, possession of less than four ounces or drug paraphernalia containing marijuana residue was a misdemeanor punishable by a year in jail and a $1,000 fine. Possession of more than four ounces is a felony with more serious penalties.
According to the article, it’s possible officers are letting people off with a warning rather than issuing a ticket.
The decriminalization law, Public Act 11-71, reduced the penalty for possession of one-half ounce or less to a $150 fine, to a $200 to $500 fine for the second offense, and the higher fine plus referral to a drug awareness program for the third offense.
Anyone under age 21 also faces a 60-day driver’s license suspension. Penalties for possession of more than one-half ounce remain the same as before.
Fred Musante contributed to this report.