Connecticut’s chief prosecutor announced last week that state attorneys had dismissed more than 1,500 pending cannabis-related criminal cases, including crimes that were no longer against the law. In a letter sent to the Connecticut legislative committee on March 31, state chief attorney Patrick J. Griffin said prosecutors were investigating more than 4,000 pending drug possession cases against him, of which He reportedly dropped 1,562 charges.
In June 2021, Connecticut lawmakers passed a law legalizing personal marijuana consumption and regulating commercial cannabis production and sales. Possession regulations took effect a month later, and in December 2022, dispensaries began regulating the sale of recreational marijuana.
The legalization law also included provisions to expunge previous cannabis-related convictions if up to 4 ounces of cannabis were involved. Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont announced in January that the bill “exploded 42,964 marijuana convictions.” However, the expungement clause did not explicitly clear the pending marijuana possession charges. This point was later clarified by MPs.
“The legislature has made it clear to the Criminal Justice Division that the new cannabis law is intended to apply to those pending on the date the law comes into effect.” Griffin said in a statement quoted by CT Insider“With an understanding of Congress’ intentions, the department undertook a rapid review of its files to respect Congress’ wishes. should be commended for their efforts and commitment to addressing the incident.”
Over 4,000 pending drug possession cases reviewed
The indictments that prosecutors have withdrawn represent cases that were pending when the legalization bill took effect. In addition to his 1,562 indictments being dropped, about 600 indictments, including multiple indictments, were changed to remove the cannabis accusation from the case. Griffin told lawmakers his office had to review more than 4,000 pending cases individually, citing state laws combining cannabis with other controlled substances such as heroin and cocaine. Reported.
“The common position of this commission and the department is that a person charged with possession of a cannabis-type substance offense that has since been decriminalized should not be charged with that crime,” Griffin told lawmakers last week. “Therefore, identification of these cannabis cases could not be achieved solely by conducting computerized reviews of pending cases.”
“This was not an easy task and was very labor intensive,” he added.
Griffin wrote last week to the General Assembly’s Judiciary Committee, which was considering a new bill to direct state attorneys to end prosecutions of cannabis possession cases. invoice, HB-6787also created a process for automatic sentence amendments for all eligible marijuana convictions identified by prosecutors and directed courts to determine whether release or sentence amendments were warranted. The bill was approved by the committee in a 27-10 vote, but committee co-chair Rep. Steve Stafstrom said the bill is likely to be amended through the legislative process said.
“This clears up the confusion that may have been created under the cannabis legalization process. has also remained pending,” Stafström said on March 31. The state chief attorney’s office, I know, heard the committee’s bipartisan concerns in its hearings to dismiss these cases.
connecticut Activists applaud charges dropped
Griffin’s move to drop the pending marijuana case was warmly received by supporters of cannabis policy reform, including Paul Armentano, deputy director of the National Organization for Marijuana Law Reform.
“Hundreds of thousands of Americans unfairly bear the burden and stigma of past convictions for actions that most Americans, and a growing number of states, no longer consider criminal.” Armentano said in a statement From the Cannabis Policy Reform Group. “Our sense of justice and fairness requires that public officials and courts move quickly to right past wrongs of cannabis prohibition and criminalization.”
Sarah Gersten, executive director and general counsel for The Last Prisoner Project, a nonprofit dedicated to securing the release of all cannabis prisoners, applauded Griffin’s move and authorized lawmakers to approve HB-6787. urged me to
“We applaud Chief Attorney Patrick Griffin for dismissing more than 1,500 pending cannabis cases and amending nearly 600. This announcement marks a major step toward achieving justice in Connecticut. ‘” Gersten wrote in an email. high times“However, the passage of HB-6787 remains critical to ensuring that those currently incarcerated have the same opportunity to have their sentences reviewed and potentially terminated,” said some people in Connecticut. remains imprisoned for cannabis while others are profiting from the exact same activities.”