Fines, Infractions Part Of Gov. Malloy's Plan To Make Punishment Fit CrimeBy John Slattery

NORWALK, Conn. (CBSNewYork) –– Penalties for possession of marijuana are a signature away from being cut in Connecticut.

CBS 2’s John Slattery reports while new rules don’t legalize pot, some offenders won’t see jail time.

A half-ounce of marijuana fits in a sandwich bag, and under a new law, such first-time offenders would be fined just $150.

“I think it’s okay. I’m okay with it, yeah,” Norwalk resident Christine Prakis said.

After squeaking through the state Senate, and passing the House, Connecticut pot penalties will be reduced. Governor Dan Malloy said the punishment should fit the crime.

Currently, marijuana possession in Connecticut is a misdemeanor, punishable by a possible year behind bars and a $1,000 fine.

Under the new law, the first offense penalty for a half-ounce is an infraction and a fine. Violators under 21 would face a driver’s license suspension.

In New York, possession of an ounce or less is an infraction and $100 fine. In New Jersey, 2 ounces or less is a disorderly person’s offense, up to six months, and $1,000 fine. Some in Connecticut say the change was needed.

WCBS 880 Connecticut Bureau Chief Fran Schneidau With St. Sen. Edward Meyer

“There’s no reason to put people in jail for a small amount of marijuana,” Tristan Haller said.

But others disagreed with easing the penalty.

“I don’t think they should soften it. I think it should still have the same penalties,” Luigi Rauccio said.

Norwalk’s police chief said there will be fewer prosecutions, but disagrees with the new law.

“If I were in possession of less than a half ounce of marijuana, I’d be given a ticket like I ran a red light,” Chief Harry Rilling said.

Among opponents to the change are lawmakers who believe that marijuana has ruined the lives of many young people, and that equating it to a speeding ticket is a mistake.

When the new law is signed within the next few weeks, Connecticut will become the 14th state to decriminalize the possession of pot.

Think this is a good idea? Please offer your thoughts in the comments section below.

Comments (14)
  1. Brian says:

    “The illegality of cannabis is outrageous, an impediment to full utilization of a drug which helps produce the serenity and insight, sensitivity and fellowship so desperately needed in this increasingly mad and dangerous world.”
    –  Carl Sagan

  2. Solidad says:

    Ultimately this makes a lot of sense. In Massachusetts, when a similar change happened a year or more ago, there was a great flurry of dire predictions from district attorneys, police chiefs, and others. They indicated that crime, all types, would increase dramatically. Well, here we are. and the crime rate in Massachusetts has actually decreased over the past year. Decriminalization is basically a non-event in Massachusetts. The only difference is that young people are now paying a fine rather than being run through the criminal justice system with bad guys.
    Congratulations Connecticut. You’ve adopted a sane policy!

  3. Four Twenty says:

    Its about time. In New York it was decriminalized over 30 years ago and were are still kickin. By the way it is posession of 25 grams or less and it is a 100 dollar fine PLUS a mandatory court surcharge fee here in New York.

  4. Meg Prichard says:

    Those who are concerned about how many lives have been ruined might consider how many lives have been ruined by, not pot, but the insane law that imprisons it’s citizens for posesion of a weed. How many families have suffered?

    Our legislators need to legalize it and apologize for the misery this unjust law has created.

    Gen. 1;11– “and I have given you every green plant”

  5. Jeff says:

    Considering the fact that illegal drug money is a major source of cash flow that sustains the US economy, .. this is probably not a positive sign to the big banks in the US that launder illegal drug money from the Mexican cartels. .. It’s sure as hell a move in the right direction as far as keeping non criminals out of prison and eventually creating a lucrative tax source for economically strapped states. … Pot never should have been made illegal, … any more that alcohol should have been.

  6. bullett says:

    The first step to legalization.

  7. KPMc says:

    “If I were in possession of less than a half ounce of marijuana, I’d be given a ticket like I ran a red light,” Chief Harry Rilling said.

    “Among opponents to the change are lawmakers who believe that marijuana has ruined the lives of many young people, and that equating it to a speeding ticket is a mistake.”

    Yes… it is a mistake because running a red light is about a thousand times more dangerous than possession of marijuana. People get killed when red lights are run. You put others in danger when you run a red light. Why are people so stupid that they don’t even realize their arguments work against them? And those are the ones that DON”T smoke pot!

    “When the new law is signed within the next few weeks, Connecticut will become the 14th state to decriminalize the possession of pot.”

    If you can still get a ticket and fined for it it’s really not de-criminalized.

  8. TomNJ says:

    Geez, take away all the risk and drugs are not as fun and exciting anymore.

  9. flea says:

    Hooray!!…Let’s all move to Connecticut.

  10. Vindicated says:

    Everyone here is selling weed and smoking it to get the “Munchies” so they can stuff their faces. Then they complain that they’re “too tired” (high), so they fall asleep or sit there–too spaced out to do anything. Smoking is a form of combustion, which exacerbates Flooding and Tornadoes.

  11. Bruce says:

    I think this is a great idea. I am for the legalization, not decriminalization.

  12. John says:

    This world is coming to an end, the evil wins.

    1. ben says:

      evil is casting a judgment based on lies and conjecture. i would bet my life that you know nothing about marijuana.

  13. HUGO says:

    420 CT YOU KNOW WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT!

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