Topic:
CRIME; DRUGS; MARIJUANA; PRISONS AND PRISONERS; SENTENCING; STATISTICAL INFORMATION;
Location:
MARIJUANA;

OLR Research Report


August 8, 2008

 

2008-R-0455

MARIJUANA CRIMES AND STATISTICS

By: Sandra Norman-Eady, Chief Attorney

You asked for the number of arrests and convictions for marijuana possession and sales crimes in Connecticut during the past five years and the cost to the state to incarcerate those convicted.

SUMMARY

Neither the Department of Public Safety nor the Judicial Department maintains information on the number of people arrested or convicted of marijuana possession or sales. The Judicial Department's statistics on drug prosecutions include marijuana prosecutions but do not identify them separately from prosecutions of other drugs. We are providing the combined statistics in this report. The latest arrest statistics on marijuana crimes are provided in OLR Report 2006-R-0113. These arrest statistics are from 2002.

The average daily cost of incarcerating criminal offenders, including marijuana offenders, is approximately $86 per inmate according the Department of Correction's website.

MARIJUANA SALE AND POSSESSION CRIMES

Marijuana Possession

It is illegal for any person to possess or have under his control any controlled substance. Penalties for marijuana possession are enhanced for repeated offenses or when the crime is committed within 1,500 feet of a school or licensed day care center. Table 1 shows penalties for marijuana possession.

Table 1: Marijuana Possession Crimes

Offense Descriptions

Possession

At least four ounces of marijuana

Cite: CGS 21a-279(b)

First offense: up to 5 years in prison, up to a $2,000 fine, or both

Subsequent offenses: up to 10 years in prison, up to a $5,000 fine, or both

*Alternative sentence: up to 3-year indeterminate jail term with conditional release by correction commissioner

Less than four ounces of marijuana

Cite: CGS 21a-279(c)

First offense: up to 1 year in prison, up to a $1,000 fine, or both

Subsequent offenses: up to 5 years in prison, up to a $3,000 fine, or both

Possession within 1,500 feet of an elementary or secondary school or a licensed day care center

Cite: CGS 21a-279(d)

Mandatory 2-year prison sentence running consecutively to the term imposed for possession.

Marijuana Sale Crimes

It is illegal for anyone to manufacture, distribute, sell, prescribe, dispense, compound, transport with intent to sell or dispense, possess with intent to sell or dispense, offer, give, or administer to another any controlled substance. Table 2 shows the penalties for selling marijuana.

Table 2: Drug Sale Crimes

Offense Descriptions

Authorized Penalties

Sale by a nonaddict of at least 1 kilogram of marijuana

Cite: CGS 21a-278(b)

Minimum 5-year prison term with a possible maximum term of up to 20 years

Subsequent offenses: mandatory minimum 10-year prison term up to a 25-year maximum term

Sale by nonaddict adult of drugs to a minor at least two years younger

Cite: CGS 21a-278a (a)

Mandatory 2-year prison term running consecutively to jail term imposed for violating the underlying crime

Sale of illegal drugs within 1,500 feet of an elementary or secondary school, a licensed day care center, or a public housing project

Cite: CGS 21a-278a (b)

Mandatory 3-year prison term running consecutively to any jail term imposed for violating the underlying drug sale crime

Hiring a minor to sell illegal drugs in violation of the laws prohibiting illegal drug sales

Cite: CGS 21a-278a (c)

Mandatory 3-year prison term running consecutively to the underlying drug sale crime

MARIJUANA PROSECUTIONS

Without completing a manual search of all drug prosecutions, we cannot distinguish prosecutions for marijuana possession and sales from other drug prosecutions because Judicial tracks case outcomes by statutory citation. For most crimes, this does not present a problem because each crime has a different statutory citation. However, drug possession crimes are codified within the same subsections regardless of the type of drug involved. The same is true about drug sale crimes. For example, CGS 21a-278 (b) makes it illegal for a non-drug dependent person to posses with intent to sell any narcotic substance, hallucinogenic substance, amphetamine-type substance, or one kilogram or more of marijuana. Judicial Department statistics show the number of prosecutions under CGS 21a-278 (b) but do not distinguish prosecutions for marijuana sales from narcotics sales.

Table 3 shows the outcomes for drug-related prosecutions from 2002 through 2007. The number of prosecutions for both sale and possession crimes were relatively constant except for a slight drop in 2005. These statistics are based on offenses disposed of by the courts. The number of prosecutions does not represent the number of people prosecuted, but rather the number of cases. One person may have been prosecuted for drug possession or sales multiple times in the same year. An individual may also be charged with a number of different crimes in the same case; therefore, prosecutors may agree to have some charges dismissed in exchange for a plea of guilty to other charges.

TABLE 3: PROSECUTIONS FOR DRUG-RELATED OFFENSES

2002-2007

Possession with intent to sell any narcotic, hallucinogenic, or amphetamine-type substance or one kilogram or more of marijuana (CGS 21a-278 (b))

Years

Guilty

(Conviction Rate)

Not Guilty

Dismissed

Nolled

TOTALS

2007

115 (6.5%)

2

132

1,515

1,764

2006

108 (6.8)

3

127

1,348

1,586

2005

126 (8.5)

4

138

1,206

1,474

2004

137 (7.6)

4

127

1,539

1,807

2003

183 (10.7)

3

106

1,424

1,716

2002

232 (13.4)

7

92

1,399

1,730

TOTALS

901

23

722

8,431

10,077

Possession or control of a dangerous hallucinogen or more than four ounces of marijuana (CGS 21a-279 (b))

Years

Guilty

(Conviction Rate)

Not Guilty

Dismissed

Nolled

TOTALS

2007

91 (19.3%)

0

90

291

472

2006

107 (21.1)

0

114

286

507

2005

82 (19.2)

0

105

240

427

2004

97 (18.9)

0

118

297

512

2003

88 (17.9)

1

137

265

491

2002

125 (22.6)

0

137

290

552

TOTALS

590

1

701

1,669

2,961

Table 3: -Continued-

Possession or control of any quantity of any controlled substance, other than a narcotic substance or a hallucinogenic substance other than marijuana, or less than four ounces of marijuana (CGS 21a-279 (c))

Years

Guilty

(Conviction Rate)

Not Guilty

Dismissed

Nolled

TOTALS

2007

3,510 (35%)

1

2,969

3,526

10,006

2006

3,703 (36.4)

0

2,850

3,615

10,168

2005

3,134 (33.1)

2

3,052

3,309

9,497

2004

3,406 (34.2)

1

3,053

3,481

9,941

2003

3,398 (34)

2

3,288

3,335

10,023

2002

3,647 (35.8)

0

3,073

3,469

10,189

TOTALS

20,798

6

18,285

20,735

59,824

Source: Judicial Department

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