MEDICAL MARIJUANA IN CONNECTICUT: Legal or Not?

Answer: It depends.

Federal law still defines marijuana as a prohibited substance. However, in direct conflict with federal law, more and more states are legalizing medical use of marijuana, such as Connecticut, and more and more states are legalizing recreational use of marijuana; Connecticut has not crossed this line yet. Connecticut General Statutes “CGS” sections 21a-408 et. seq. sets forth the Palliative Use of Marijuana Act “PUMA.” If you meet the prescription requirements, and all the other restrictions including, but not limited to, the quantity, where you purchase it, where you consume/ingest it, if you work or operate equipment, how and when you consume/ingest it, etc. and you are in full compliance, you cannot be arrested, prosecuted, penalized, disciplined, or have any right or privilege infringed upon under Connecticut law. Federal law still provides you are committing a crime(s). It appears more and more courts are stretching the interpretation of federal v. state laws to accommodate the trend of legalization, but the uncertainty of this is that it can differ on a case by case basis depending on the Court and the Judge hearing the case. This is not necessarily comforting to a normally law abiding citizen who suffers debilitating pain and needs marijuana to help get through the day who now has to decide: do I bear the pain or do I run the risk of potential criminal charges and consume marijuana to relieve my pain?

Furthermore, this law specifically limits what schools, employers and landlords can do to people consuming/ingesting marijuana. I recently was asked if a landlord could evict a fully compliant medical marijuana user from an apartment for smoking marijuana. It was this question that caused me to find these answers. Interestingly, a landlord cannot evict or remove you for consuming marijuana. However, what if the lease provided that “no smoking” was allowed on the premises? There is no doubt that smoke from any source is destructive by nature and I believe it is well within a landlord’s rights to restrict smoking on their premises. Having said that, if a tenant is a lawful “Qualified Patient” and smokes marijuana (versus other forms of consumption), I believe the landlord can still restrict the tenant from smoking in the premises. However, I believe he would have to allow the tenant to smoke in some designated smoking area on the premises that is not too inconvenient for the tenant in order to not violate the Americans with Disabilities Act, which requires a “reasonable accommodation” for one’s disabilities.

The law is quite complex and untested in this area and only time will unveil all of its implications.

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