The state of Connecticut is making changes to its marijuana laws, per a new bill that has been proposed. One element of the bill that will be changed is what happens when a police officer pulls over a motor vehicle. Another change is what happens if a person is caught smoking or otherwise ingesting cannabis in a motor vehicle. Read on to learn more about the changes that will take place starting July 1st, 2021.
Reasonable Suspicion and Probable Cause
Under this new bill, the following can no longer support a stop or a search of a motor vehicle or a person in Connecticut:
- The suspected or real possession of up to five ounces of cannabis.
- The presence of up to $500 in cash near marijuana.
- The smell of marijuana.
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However, it is important to keep in mind that police officers can still conduct impairment tests if they believe that a person was operating a motor vehicle under the influence of marijuana. Driving under the influence of marijuana is still a crime in Connecticut and is considered a drug DUI. Just as a police officer is allowed to conduct such testing and investigation if they smell alcohol on a driver’s breath, so can they conduct this testing if they smell the odor of cannabis when they pull someone over.
According to the new bill, evidence that is discovered in violation of these new provisions will not be admissible in court.
Marijuana Use in Motor Vehicles
Also effective July 1st, 2021, is an element of this bill that addresses the consumption of marijuana in motor vehicles. Smoking or injecting cannabis as the driver of a motor vehicle will now become a Class C misdemeanor, and doing so as a passenger is a Class D misdemeanor. Class C misdemeanors carry penalties such as a prison term of up to three months and a fine of up to $500. A Class D misdemeanor is punishable by 30 days in prison and a fine of up to $250. Keep in mind that the bill refers to consuming cannabis in a motor vehicle that is being operated on a public highway, a parking area of 10 or more cars, on a private road with a speed limit set by the state, on school property, or on a specially chartered road. A police officer can’t pull someone over based solely on the violations listed here.
A person also cannot be convicted of both possession of a controlled substance and ingesting cannabis for the same incident. However, a person can be charged with either or both offense, as well as a drug DUI.
The marijuana laws in Connecticut may be changing in the months and years to come. It can be difficult to keep up with all of these changes and make sure that you are following the law. If you have any questions about the current cannabis laws, proposed bills, and the future of cannabis in Connecticut, contact my office. I am happy to clarify these things for you. If you face a drug DUI, or you have another cannabis and motor vehicle issue, feel free to reach out for help.