hartford defense lawyerThe “war on drugs” has led law enforcement officials to crack down on anyone who is suspected of illegally possessing, selling, distributing, or manufacturing controlled substances. Recently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that there has been an increase in the number of drug overdoses related to fentanyl. Because of this, authorities may be looking to pursue drug charges against those who are accused of possessing this substance. Anyone who has been arrested for drug possession or distribution will need to secure representation from a criminal defense lawyer.

Increased Concerns About Fentanyl and Cocaine

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that has become more available in recent years, since it is fairly easy and inexpensive to manufacture. It is highly addictive, and it is often more potent than other opioid drugs. Recently, officials have raised concerns about an increased number of overdoses involving the combination of fentanyl and cocaine. These overdoses may have occurred because the drugs were unintentionally mixed together or because drug users attempted to use multiple substances at the same time. Those who have not built up a tolerance for fentanyl are more likely to experience dangerous or fatal overdoses.

Fentanyl-Related Drug Charges in Connecticut

Under Connecticut law, illegal possession of a controlled substance may be charged as a Class A misdemeanor, and a conviction can result in a prison sentence of up to one year, as well as a maximum fine of $2,000. However, law enforcement officials may pursue charges for possession of controlled substances with the intent to sell, distribute, give, or administer these substances to someone else. The specific charges will usually be based on the amount of drugs that are found in a person’s possession, and even seemingly small amounts of fentanyl or other drugs could lead to charges of illegally manufacturing, distributing, or selling controlled substances.

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Hartford criminal defense lawyerMarijuana use has become more and more accepted over the past decade, and multiple states have chosen to legalize this substance. The state of Connecticut will soon be joining these ranks after Governor Ned Lamont signed a bill that will make marijuana legal for recreational use. Some of the bill’s provisions will go into effect as soon as July 1, 2021. In addition to affecting criminal cases involving drug charges, this new law may also play a role in cases involving juvenile crimes, probation violations, and clearing of criminal records.

Details of Connecticut’s New Marijuana Law

Starting on July 1, 2021, people over the age of 21 will be allowed to possess up to 1.5 ounces of cannabis plant materials on their person or an equivalent amount of products containing marijuana. A person may also possess up to five ounces of marijuana in a locked container in their residence or that is locked inside the trunk or glove compartment of a vehicle. The law has also eliminated the criminal penalties for manufacturing, selling, or using drug paraphernalia related to marijuana, and it reduced the penalties for illegally manufacturing or selling marijuana. 

The law made a number of other changes that will affect criminal cases, including:

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Hartford federal drug charges defense attorneyFor years now, many lawmakers have agreed that the United States criminal justice system has needed major reforms. Many bills intended to address this issue have been introduced in the past few years, but most have fallen on deaf ears in Congress and have not made their way to the President’s desk. This all changed in December 2018 when President Trump signed the FIRST STEP Act into law. The FIRST STEP Act is one of the first major changes to sentencing for federal drug crimes and is intended to help reduce the prison population. It will also help those who are newly convicted with drug crimes.

Reforms Made By the FIRST STEP Act

The FIRST STEP Act pushes the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) to assess the risks and needs for every offender when they are sentenced. Then, the BOP will attempt to reduce the rate of reoffending through individualized and evidence-based plans, which will be offered to all inmates. Programs that could be a part of these plans may include substance abuse treatment, mental health care, anger-management courses, job training, educational support, and even faith-based initiatives.

Another reform made by the Act is intended to help inmates transition back into their communities. The Act allows inmates to serve a portion of the end of their imprisonment in a halfway house or in-home confinement. This allows inmates to successfully transition back into normal life and lowers their chances of reoffending. The BOP will perform the risks and needs assessment more frequently during this time to make sure the services the inmate needs are there.

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marijuana-medical-test-rulingImagine a scenario in which you are applying for a job. You pass the interview stage with flying colors, and the hiring manager is ready to bring you on immediately. The only thing you have left to do is pass a pre-employment drug screening. You are not worried because everything you currently take has been prescribed by a doctor who is licensed to practice in your state. When the screening results come back, however, they show that you have a particular drug in your system—one that you even told your prospective employer about beforehand. As a result of the test, your job offer is rescinded. Sounds pretty unfair, does it not? This is exactly what happened to a Connecticut woman in a situation that shows just how far we have left to go as our country tries to figure out exactly how to handle medical marijuana.

A Quick Background

In 2016, a woman was recruited and applied to work at a nursing home and rehabilitation center in Niantic, Connecticut. The woman’s interviews went well, and she was offered the position of Activities Manager pursuant to a pre-employment drug test. Prior to the screening, she informed the hiring manager that she was a registered patient under Connecticut’s Palliative Use of Marijuana Act (PUMA)—the state’s legal medical marijuana program. She had been in an accident in 2012 and was currently using a prescribed pill form of marijuana at night to help with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms.

As she expected, the drug screening did indicate the presence of THC, the psychoactive component of marijuana. What she did not expect, however, was the rescinding of her job offer. The nursing home decided they could not hire the woman because they used the federal list of legal drugs, and marijuana is not a legal prescription under federal law. The woman subsequently filed a lawsuit for employment discrimination under PUMA, which specifically prohibits employers from making employment decisions based on an applicant’s status as a registered medical marijuana user.

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drugs, Hartford criminal defense attorneyThe United States is in the midst of a horrific crisis related to drug abuse. The problem is so widespread that it is largely known as an epidemic. On an average day, about 115 people in the U.S. die as the result of an opioid overdose. Opioids include prescription pain relievers like Vicodin and OxyContin, as well as heroin and fentanyl. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the financial cost of prescription opioid misuse—not included illegal drugs like heroin—is about $78.5 billion annually.

There are two primary philosophies when it comes to dealing with America’s drug problem. The first is more draconian, and it involves harsh criminal prosecution for those who use, sell, and manufacture illegal drugs, as well as those who use otherwise-legal prescription drugs in illegal ways. The second, one could argue, is more compassionate, and it involves treating substance abuse like a disease. Laws across the country seem to bounce back and forth between the two sides when it comes to individual drug users, but when an overdose death occurs, the prosecution philosophy often takes over.

Could You Be Considered a Drug Dealer?

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