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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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field drug test, Hartford criminal defense attorneyAccording to statistics compiled by the federal government, more than 90 percent of all criminal defendant plead guilty to the charges against them—or some variation of such charges in a plea deal—instead of going to trial. In some cases, pleading guilty may be the better option, as the defendant knows that he or she committed the crime of which he or she has been accused and by pleading guilty, the impact to the defendant’s future may be lessened. In other situations, however, including many drug cases, a suspect may plead guilty because he or she was led to believe that the evidence against him or her is overwhelming, even if he or she is not actually guilty. The defendant may be convinced that he or she stands no chance at trial and a plea agreement may seem like the only option.

Field Drug Testing

One example of such potentially misleading evidence is the result of a field drug test. These tests are intended to use a chemical process to detect the presence of illicit substances and lead to thousands of arrests each year. To conduct a field drug analysis, a police officer will drop a sample of a seized substance into a pouch containing several chemicals, which are meant to change color to indicate that the substance is, in fact, an illegal drug. While many studies have supported the tests as accurate enough to establish probable cause for the officer to then make an arrest, a conviction requires proof beyond a reasonable doubt—a standard that these $2 test kits may not be capable of meeting.

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