Connecticut Prosecutors Drop 1,500 Hashish Costs


Connecticut’s chief prosecutor introduced final week that state’s attorneys have dismissed greater than 1,500 pending cannabis-related prison circumstances involving offenses which might be not towards the regulation. In a letter despatched to a Connecticut legislative committee on March 31, Chief State’s Lawyer Patrick J. Griffin reported that prosecutors had reviewed greater than 4,000 pending drug possession circumstances and dropped the costs for 1,562 of them.

In June 2021, Connecticut lawmakers handed laws to legalize private portions of marijuana and to manage business hashish manufacturing and gross sales. The possession provisions went into impact one month later, and dispensaries started regulated gross sales of leisure marijuana in December 2022. 

The legalization statute additionally included provisions for the expungement of previous cannabis-related convictions in circumstances involving as much as 4 ounces of hashish. In January, Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont announced he had “erased 42,964 hashish convictions” on account of the laws. However the expungement provisions didn’t explicitly clear fees for pending marijuana possession circumstances, some extent that was later clarified by lawmakers. 

“The legislature made clear to the Division of Prison Justice that it supposed for the brand new hashish legal guidelines to use to individuals who had fees pending on the date the regulation went into impact,” Griffin said in a statement cited by CTInsider. “Understanding the intent of the legislature, the division undertook an expedited evaluate of its recordsdata to respect the legislature’s needs. The state’s attorneys and their workplaces needs to be recommended for his or her efforts and their dedication to addressing these circumstances in such a well timed method.”

Extra Than 4,000 Pending Drug Possession Circumstances Reviewed

The fees dropped by prosecutors signify circumstances that have been pending when the legalization invoice went into impact. Along with the 1,562 dropped fees, about 600 extra that concerned a number of fees have been modified to take away hashish fees from the case. Griffin reported to lawmakers that his workplace needed to evaluate every of greater than 4,000 pending circumstances individually, citing state regulation that mixes hashish with different managed substances similar to heroin and cocaine.

“It has been the shared place of this committee and the division that individuals charged with a possession of a cannabis-type substance offense that has subsequently been decriminalized shouldn’t be prosecuted for that offense,” Griffin wrote in his letter to lawmakers final week. “Thus, figuring out these hashish circumstances couldn’t be achieved merely by conducting a computerized evaluate of pending circumstances.” 

“This was no small job and fairly labor intensive,” he added.

Griffin despatched his letter to the Common Meeting’s Judiciary Committee, which was final week contemplating a brand new invoice directing state’s attorneys to finish prosecutions for hashish possession circumstances. The invoice, HB-6787, additionally creates a course of for computerized sentence modification of all eligible marijuana convictions recognized by prosecutorial officers and instructs courts to find out if launch or sentence modification is warranted. The measure was authorized by the panel by a vote of 27-10, though Consultant Steve Stafstrom, the co-chair of the committee, mentioned that the invoice is prone to be amended because it continues by way of the legislative course of.

“This clears up confusion which will have been created beneath the legalization-of-cannabis course of, whereby sure offenses that have been pending earlier than hashish legalization remained pending even after that laws was adopted,” Stafstrom mentioned on March 31. “I need to particularly thank the workplace of the Chief State’s Lawyer, who I do know heard the considerations, the bipartisan considerations of this committee on the public listening to by way of getting these circumstances dismissed.”

Connecticut Activists Applaud Dropped Costs

Griffin’s transfer to drop the pending marijuana circumstances was warmly acquired by hashish coverage reform advocates together with Paul Armentano, the deputy director of the Nationwide Group for the Reform of Marijuana Legal guidelines.

“A whole lot of 1000’s of People unduly carry the burden and stigma of a previous conviction for conduct that the majority People, and a rising variety of states, not contemplate to be a criminal offense,” Armentano said in a statement from the hashish coverage reform group. “Our sense of justice and our ideas of equity demand that public officers and the courts transfer swiftly to proper the previous wrongs of hashish prohibition and criminalization.”

Sarah Gersten, govt director and common counsel of the Final Prisoner Mission, a nonprofit group devoted to securing the discharge of all hashish prisoners, praised Griffin’s transfer and urged lawmakers to approve HB-6787.

“We applaud Chief State’s Lawyer Patrick Griffin for dismissing greater than 1,500 pending hashish circumstances and modifying roughly 600 others. This announcement marks an incredible step in direction of attaining justice in Connecticut,” Gersten wrote in an e mail to Excessive Instances. “Nonetheless, HB-6787’s passage continues to be essential to make sure these at the moment incarcerated have the identical alternative to have their sentences reviewed and probably terminated. It’s unconscionable that some in Connecticut stay incarcerated for hashish whereas others are making the most of the very same exercise.”

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