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Connecticut criminal defense attorneyThe evolution of the public’s attitude toward marijuana over the last few decades has been an interesting phenomenon to witness. The use of the drug has been long associated with a particular lifestyle—and, largely, a certain type of person. While such stereotypes were often inaccurate and potentially discriminatory, they have started to fall away in recent years.

Much of the change has come from the recognition that marijuana seems to have medicinal and palliative uses—so much so that 33 states have established legal, medical cannabis programs. In 10 states, however, it is legal for adults age 21 and over to purchase and use marijuana for recreational purposes. Among these states is our neighbor to the north, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. As the sale of recreational marijuana begins in Massachusetts, law enforcement officials here in Connecticut are reminding citizens that the drug is still illegal in the Constitution State.

The Law in Connecticut

In 2011, Connecticut lawmakers decriminalized the possession of small amounts of marijuana—less than a half-ounce—but decriminalizing the drug is not the same as legalizing it. Those who are found to be in possession of a small amount of marijuana can be cited for a civil violation and may face fines of up $150 for a first offense and $500 for a second offense. Possession of greater amounts of the drug is still a crime, however, and a conviction could lead to $2000 in fines and up to a year in jail.


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 As a result of the test, your job offer is rescinded.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.


DNA, Hartford criminal defense lawyerThanks to television shows like CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, Law & Order, their respective spin-offs, and similar programs, the average person tends to have an unrealistic view of criminal forensics. The limitations of television require such shows to compress months of police work and lab testing into 60 minutes—less if you are not counting commercial breaks. Additionally, the accuracy of the labs on these shows is rarely, if ever, questioned. In reality, however, certain forensic testing processes may not be as accurate as we have been led to believe, including the near-sacred area of DNA testing.

A Troubling Study

In a disturbing study, researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology tested the accuracy of 108 separate crime labs, including 105 in the United States and three in Canada. To do so, the team sent the same mixture of DNA to each lab and asked the labs to compare the mixture to DNA taken from three known “suspects.”

The mixture actually contained DNA from just two of the suspects, and most of the labs correctly identified the DNA from those two. However, more than 70 of the testing facilities found that the sample included DNA from the third individual as well. The problem, obviously, is that the third person’s DNA was not part of the mixture. This means that their report would have implicated an innocent person for the crime in a real-world scenario.


evidence, Connecticut criminal defense attorneyWhen prosecuting a high-profile criminal case, prosecutors will go to great lengths to provide enough evidence for the jury to convict the defendant on the charges at hand. In many cases, such evidence comes in the form of forensic analysis and conclusions made by the individual who made the analysis. Because such topics are often dense and difficult to understand, jurors often trust the offered testimony because they are told that the individual has been trained in a particular field. Sometimes, however, the such “evidence” and conclusions lack scientific support, as a case in Texas recently demonstrated.

The Murder Trial

In 1985, a Texas jury convicted a high school principal of murdering his wife. One of the key pieces of evidence was blood found on a flashlight in the trunk of the man’s car. Despite the man’s claims that he was asleep in a hotel room 120 miles away from the murder scene, a police detective analyzed the bloodstain patterns on the flashlight and concluded that the flashlight was being held at the time of the murder. The detective—who had undergone about 40 hours of blood spatter analysis training—claimed that bloodstains were consistent with “back spatter” from a close-range shooting. Since the trial took place in 1985, DNA testing was not available to confirm that the blood belonged to the murder victim, but it was determined to be the right blood type—but type O could be a match for about half of the U.S. population.


hair testing, Connecticut personal injury attorneyWhether we like to admit it or not, we make judgments about people every day based on their hair. We notice whether someone’s hair looks clean or not, whether it is styled nicely or unkempt, and whether it is “too long” or “too short” for our own personal tastes. While your hair can visually broadcast a great deal about you to the outside world, it can also serve as a sort of record-keeping system. In fact, by conducting certain tests on your hair, scientists can tell whether you smoke, drink to excess, do not drink at all, or use illegal drugs. Such tests have even found their way into courtrooms and could have implications in personal injury lawsuits.

A Retrospective History

When the human body breaks down ingested substances like drugs or alcohol, microscopic remnants of the drug or byproducts of breaking down the drug remain in various places in the body. As hair grows, it is “built” using components that include these remnants, leaving traces of the drug—called metabolites—in the hair permanently.

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