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Drug Policy Reform in Connecticut

Documents relating to the recent efforts for drug policy reform in the State of Connecticut


Public Act No. 97-248 - An act concerning substance abuse education and treatment programs and establishing Connecticut alcohol and drug policy council.

Committee Hearings, March 12, 1997

Committee Hearings, March 21, 1997

Amendment SB-1259-SA - An Act concerning pilot research programs for treating drug addiction and the qualifications and licensure for certain health care professionals

Drug Felony Convictions for Females

Summary of HB 6991, An Act Concerning Drug Policy

Field Sobriety Tests For Driving While Impaired By Drugs

Drug Forfeiture

Supreme Court Review of Forfeiture Cases

Marijuana Tax 

Drug Free Zones

Denying Welfare Benefits to People Convicted of Possession with Intent to Sell

Medical Use of Marijuana in Connecticut

Use of Narcotics Detection Dogs


Penalties for Drug Crimes

Possession of Illegal Drugs

Sentences for Illegal Drugs

Arizona and California Initiatives on the Medical Use of Marijuana



by Tom Vondeck

    For years there was talk among the Connecticut Judiciary Committee to undertake a comprehensive study of Connecticut's drug policy.  On April 19th, 1995, they wrote a letter to Jay Levin, the chair of the Law Revision Commission at the time, requesting that the commission undertake a study of "alternative models for the control of drug use".  It was further requested that such a study should focus on the following areas:

  1. Law enforcement;  specifically, the effectiveness of current laws and the impact that alteration of the laws would have on society.
  2. The effectiveness of current treatment and education programs
  3. The effectiveness of drug policies in other states and countries
  4. The relationship between drugs and welfare

    By the deadline, which was January 2, 1997, the commission published a report on their findings, along with a list of "Strategy Options" (basically a set of bills).  These options included:

  1. The establishment of an alcohol and drug policy council to submit annual reports and recommendations to the General Assembly
  2. A pilot methadone program inside and outside of a correctional setting
  3. Alternatives to incarceration, such as substance abuse treatment within the criminal justice system
  4. A bill allowing drug offenders who receive welfare to retain benefits
  5. Needle exchange programs
  6. Medical marijuana bill
  7. Reduction of penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana to a small fine for persons
    21 and over

    All but the first three failed to make it through the 1997 legislative session.  However, the first three were  merged into one bill which passed as Public Act 97-248.

    It's a good compromise which turned Connecticut into a leader in reform.  Because of the nature of  the political arena, COMPLETE reform doesn't happen overnight, but every step counts.