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Conn.: Governor Malloy signs decriminalization bill!

As expected, Gov. Dan Malloy signed SB 1014 yesterday, marking another victory in the fight to reform our nation’s broken marijuana laws.

The new law takes effect today (July 1) and makes possession of under half an ounce of marijuana a civil violation rather than a misdemeanor. Those caught in possession of less than half an ounce will be cited, rather than arrested, and fined $150 for a first offense and $200-500 for subsequent offenses. A few other noteworthy details:

* Marijuana paraphernalia (pipes, etc.) is similarly decriminalized.

* Upon a third conviction, violators will be referred to a drug education program at their own expense.

* Violators under age 21 will have their driver’s licenses suspended for 60 days.

* The standard of evidence for proving a violation is “preponderance of the evidence,” as opposed to the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard used for crimes.

Connecticut becomes the 14th state to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana, joining neighboring Massachusetts, which passed an MPP-written and sponsored ballot initiative in 2008. Another neighboring state, Rhode Island, is considering decriminalization, so please forward this to your friends in Rhode Island so they can contact their legislators.

Thanks everyone, onward!