Experienced Marijuana Law Attorneys Providing Representation in a Variety of Areas of Law
With the legalization (and decriminalization) of marijuana in 29 states and Washington D.C., the marijuana industry is a rapidly growing field of law and presents an economic opportunity for many. Due to the range of legal issues associated with this developing field, marijuana law encompasses many different areas of legal expertise. Here at Brown, Paindiris & Scott, we can help you with all of your marijuana law needs.
The Medical Marijuana Program and Legislative Updates in Connecticut
In June 2012, Governor Dannel Malloy signed into law a medical marijuana program for the state of Connecticut. Thereafter, the Department of Consumer Protection created a comprehensive set of rules and regulations governing a state medical marijuana program. In practice, following a certification from a medical doctor or advanced practitioner nurse, a qualifying Connecticut resident can receive a medical marijuana card from the Department of Consumer Protection (“DCP”), which provides the holder (“patient”) with access to one of the nine state licensed marijuana dispensaries. At any dispensary a patient can purchase marijuana in various forms, which are provided to the dispensary by one of the four licensed Connecticut producers of marijuana medicine. Information regarding qualifying conditions and locations of state dispensaries can be found on the DCP website here.
Marijuana remains a Schedule I drug under the federal Controlled Substances Act, meaning that federal authorities believe that marijuana has a high potential for abuse, has no currently accepted medical use in treatment and that there is a lack of accepted safety for its under medical supervision. Thus, while marijuana remains illegal to possess or prescribe under federal law, the possession of small (less than ½ oz) of marijuana is now “decriminalized” in Connecticut. While possession of even small amounts of marijuana is still unlawful in Connecticut, it is no longer a “crime” and is punishable by only by a “civil penalty” or fine. Moreover, it remains a crime (misdemeanor) to possess more than ½ oz of marijuana and it is a felony to cultivate or sell marijuana.
On May 16, 2017, Connecticut Democrats revealed their newest budget proposal, which includes the taxing and regulating of marijuana for adults’ use. During the General Assembly’s 2017 session, momentum built for legalization with four bills introduced- SB 11, HB 5314, HB 5539, and HB 6518. Hearings were held in two committees, but the bills ultimately failed in committee. However, budget negotiations create a genuine opportunity for Connecticut to adopt a tax and regulate program this year. (www.mpp.org/states/connecticut/) Legislative discussion of the recreational bill can be seen here: http://ct-n.com/ctnplayer.asp?odID=14172&jump=4:45:45
Starting a Marijuana Business
As Connecticut repeatedly contemplates adopting some form of a recreational marijuana program, the opportunity for entrepreneurs at some future point becomes apparent. The attorneys of Brown, Paindiris & Scott can help you navigate the current industry climate as well as if legalization of a recreational programs arrives, with decades of both general business experience and highly specialized medical marijuana business experience. The attorneys of the firm’s Marijuana Law Department have extensive industry experience and have written successful applications to produce and dispense marijuana in several states, including under the medical marijuana program in Connecticut. If you are interested in capitalizing on the potential economic opportunities available if the Connecticut Marijuana Program expands, Brown, Paindiris & Scott can advise your business for future success.
Discrimination in Employment and Housing
According to Connecticut state law, no employer may refuse to hire a person or may discharge, penalize or threaten an employee solely on the basis of such person’s or employee’s status as a qualifying [medical marijuana] patient or primary caregiver. An employer, however, may prohibit the use of intoxicating substances during work hours or discipline an employee for being intoxicated while at work. This language is highly important to both employees and employers navigating the Connecticut Medical Marijuana Program. If you believe that you have been wrongly discriminated against in the workplace due to your medical marijuana patient status, or if you are an employer concerned about actual or possible complaints by employees who are medical marijuana patients, please contact us at Brown, Paindiris, & Scott.
Additionally, under the Connecticut medical marijuana program, there are specific regulations relating to tenants who are registered patients. Specifically, the law states that no landlord may refuse to rent a dwelling unit to a person or take action against a tenant solely on the basis of such person’s or tenant’s status as a qualifying patient or primary caregiver. If you are a landlord and are being wrongly accused of engaging in discriminatory renting or leasing practices, contact our attorneys at Brown, Paindiris and Scott for your defense.
Administrative Law and Professional License Defense
As with many state-regulated businesses, there is bound to be interaction with the administering agency overseeing the business. The Medical Marijuana industry is closely regulated by the Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection (“DCP”). Medical providers, including those with the ability to proscribe medical marijuana, are licensed by the Department of Public Health (“DPH”), including admission by the Boards of Medical Examiners and Board of Nursing Examiners. Inevitably the medical marijuana industry and those involved with it, patients and medical professionals alike, could face complicated and difficult compliance and licensure issues with these and other state agencies. Let Brown, Paindiris & Scott’s Administrative Law and Licensure Defense team help you with all of your administrative legal needs.
Family Law Issues
With the legalization of medicinal marijuana in Connecticut and the possibility of legalization of recreational marijuana in the future, a number of family law and parenting concerns have arisen. There can be perceptions by one party of a divorce, or social workers associated with the Department of Children of Families (“DCF”) and others that valid medical marijuana patients are doing something wrong. At Brown, Paindiris & Scott we can help you preserve your rights as a parent and a medical marijuana patient.
If you are looking for a lawyer to help with family law issues relating to marijuana use, our experienced attorneys here at Brown, Paindiris, & Scott are able to help.
State Marijuana laws are changing at a rapid pace and, where marijuana has become legal in some capacity at the state level for 59.3% of Americans according to a November 2016 study of Medical Marijuana Inc. online, found here, marijuana cultivation possession and sale all remain federal criminal offenses, entailing very significant criminal exposures. Moreover, possession of marijuana in Connecticut remains unlawful, despite the “decriminalization” of small amounts (less than ½ oz) of marijuana. Possession of more marijuana than ½ oz, as well as cultivation and sale, remain crimes in Connecticut. It is also unlawful to be in possession of drug paraphernalia in Connecticut, which may include certain items associated with marijuana use. If you are being investigated for or have been charged by state or federal law enforcement in relation to marijuana, call the highly experienced criminal defense team at Brown, Paindiris & Scott, LLP.
Driving Under the Influence
Current Connecticut law prohibits use of marijuana in any vehicle. Moreover, the law in Connecticut criminalizes the operation of any motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or any intoxicating substance (“DUI”). Often an issue in allegations of DUI involving marijuana is how to adequately prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, what being under the influence of an intoxicating quantity requires and how to prove the same. Current performed by the State Toxicology Laboratory only analyze if marijuana is in the system in any degree, often without providing the prosecution or defense the quantity or concentration of the marijuana. Because THC, a component of marijuana, is stored in fat cells, it can remain in the system for long periods of time. This makes it hard to determine whether the marijuana in the system was administered 30 days or 30 minutes prior, and relatedly, whether there was an intoxicating level of marijuana in the defendant’s system at the time of operation. This divergence between the science and the law requires the knowledge of attorneys that are familiar with the unique issues surrounding marijuana and allegations of DUI. At Brown, Paindiris & Scott, our criminal defense team has forty years of protecting defendant’s rights before state and federal law enforcement and prosecutors.
Why would I need to use a law firm with a marijuana law department? What services do you provide? How could a lawyer knowledgeable about marijuana law help me?
Due to the current differences between the state and federal laws regarding medical and recreational marijuana programs, there are novel and unique issues associated with the developing field of marijuana law that attorneys in this fast-paced area will be more adept at navigating for our clients. Here at Brown, Paindiris & Scott, we provide a full spectrum of services in the area of marijuana law, from DUI to how to get your marijuana business, as authorized by Connecticut law, off the ground. Contact Brown, Paindiris & Scott to find out more about how our lawyers who focus in issues surrounding marijuana law can help you.
What is actual Connecticut state law regarding marijuana? I’m confused, isn’t marijuana legal?
Connecticut is one of a majority of states that has legalized a medical marijuana program despite the federal a blanket federal prohibition on the possession of marijuana. Many states, including Connecticut, have chosen this path toward legalization of a medical marijuana program based on current scientific data and the support of its constituents. However, while several states have authorized recreational marijuana programs by various means, there is no similar program in Connecticut and, therefore, the possession of marijuana for recreational purposes remains unlawful.
How is medical marijuana different from recreational use of marijuana?
Medical Marijuana in Connecticut is the use of a marijuana to treat a specific qualifying condition and can only be undertaken in strict compliance with the statutory and regulatory regime created by the legislature and Department of Consumer Protection (“DCP”). Recreational Marijuana is the use of marijuana in the same manner as one would use alcohol or tobacco and is currently not legal in Connecticut.
Who is eligible for medical marijuana in Connecticut?
As of the DCP’s update on November 8, 2018, there are currently 31 qualifying conditions approved for adults and 8 for patients under 18 for which a Connecticut resident can seek to be certified for registration in the medical marijuana program. The list of current conditions can be found on the Department of Consumer Protection website here.
How do the laws related to marijuana in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts impact residents of Connecticut?
Despite the recreational legalization of marijuana in surrounding states, including Massachusetts, it remains illegal to cultivate, possess or sell marijuana in Connecticut, but for in compliance with Connecticut’s limited medical marijuana program.