HARTFORD, Conn. (Oct. 7, 2021) – Medical marijuana patients in Connecticut can now grow their own cannabis despite ongoing federal marijuana prohibition.
As of Oct. 1, patients 18-years-old or older registered with the state’s medical cannabis access program can grow up to six marijuana plants in their homes for personal use. Households with more than one registered patient can grow up to a maximum of 12 plants.
This expansion of the state’s medical marijuana program was included in the bill recently signed by Gov. Ned Lamont that legalized adult-use marijuana in Connecticut. Home cultivation will ultimately be legal for all adults in Connecticut, but provisions allowing non-patient cannabis cultivation won’t go into effect until July 2023.
NORML has pushed for home cultivation to be included in all medical marijuana programs.
“NORML supports the right of individuals to grow their own cannabis as an alternative to purchasing it from licensed commercial producers. NORML maintains that the inclusion of legislative provisions protecting the non-commercial home cultivation of cannabis serves as leverage to assure that the product available at retail outlets is high quality, safe, and affordable. Further, many patients respond best to specific strains of the cannabis plant. Permitting select patients the option to produce these specific strains at home assures that they will have an uninterrupted and cost-effective supply of the medicine that is best suited to their own particular therapeutic needs.”
EFFECT ON FEDERAL PROHIBITION
While marijuana has become more widely accepted across the U.S., under federal law, it remains illegal. As we’ve seen with immigration sanctuary cities, when state and local enforcement ends, the federal government has an extremely difficult time enforcing their acts.
Under the federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA) passed in 1970, the federal government maintains complete prohibition of marijuana. Of course, the federal government lacks any constitutional authority to ban or regulate cannabis within the borders of a state, despite the opinion of the politically connected lawyers on the Supreme Court. If you doubt this, ask yourself why it took a constitutional amendment to institute federal alcohol prohibition.
Connecticut legalized medical marijuana in 2012 and removed one layer of laws punishing the possession and use of marijuana in the state, but federal prohibition remains in effect. Legalizing marijuana for adult use takes another major step and effectively ends state marijuana prohibition. This is significant because FBI statistics show that law enforcement makes approximately 99 of 100 marijuana arrests under state, not federal law. When states stop enforcing marijuana laws, they sweep away most of the basis for 99 percent of marijuana arrests.
Furthermore, figures indicate it would take 40 percent of the DEA’s yearly budget just to investigate and raid all of the dispensaries in Los Angeles – a single city in a single state. That doesn’t include the cost of prosecution. The lesson? The feds lack the resources to enforce marijuana prohibition without state assistance.
A GROWING MOVEMENT
Colorado, Washington state, Oregon and Alaska were the first states to legalize recreational cannabis, and California, Nevada, Maine and Massachusetts joined them after ballot initiatives in favor of legalization passed in November 2016. Michigan followed suit when voters legalized cannabis for general use in 2018. Vermont became the first state to legalize marijuana through a legislative act in 2018. Illinois followed suit in 2019. New Jersey, Montana and Arizona all legalized recreational marijuana through ballot measures in the 2020 election. Earlier this year, New York, New Mexico, and Virginia. Connecticut became the 18th state to legalize adult-use marijuana.
With 36 states allowing cannabis for medical use, and 18 legalizing for adult recreational use, the feds find themselves in a position where they simply can’t enforce prohibition anymore.
The lesson here is pretty straightforward. When enough people say, ‘No!’ to the federal government, and enough states pass laws backing those people up, there’s not much the feds can do to shove their so-called laws, regulations, or mandates down our throats.
The expansion of the state’s medical marijuana program and adult-use legalization in Connecticut highlights another important strategic reality. Once a state legalizes marijuana – even if only in a very limited way – the law tends to eventually expand. As the state tears down some barriers, markets develop and demand expands. That creates pressure to further relax state law. These new laws represent a further erosion of unconstitutional federal marijuana prohibition.