Medical Marijuana Board of Physicians Meeting on Wednesday


On Wednesday, August 19, the Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection’s Medical Marijuana Program Board of Physicians will meet to discuss adding complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) to the list of conditions covered under the state’s medical marijuana law.

Complex regional painCT DCP Logo syndrome is a chronic pain condition that usually arises following a brain injury or a trauma. The symptoms of CRPS are prolonged or excessive pain and changes in skin color, temperature, and swelling of the affected area. It typically affects arms, legs, hands, and feet and is thought to be caused by damage to, or malfunction of, the peripheral and central nervous systems. Medical marijuana could provide much needed relief to Connecticut patients suffering with CRPS.

Earlier this year, the Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection added four new conditions to the list of qualifying medical conditions. It agreed with the Board of Physicians to include sickle cell disease, post laminectomy syndrome (“failed back syndrome”), severe psoriasis, and psoriatic arthritis. If the board recommends including CRPS, it is likely the Department will follow that recommendation. Please join advocates on Wednesday to show your support for CRPS patients.

The meeting is open to the public and will take place at 8:00 a.m. at 165 Capitol Avenue, Hartford, in Room 126.

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Connecticut Steadily Expunging Past Marijuana Convictions


ConnecticutFlag_of_Connecticut.svg has been removing prior marijuana convictions for the vast majority of people who apply since a recent state Supreme Court decision.

Associated Press reports:

Connecticut judges have granted more than 80 percent of requests to erase marijuana possession convictions since the state decriminalized small amounts of pot in 2011, state Judicial Branch records show.

Superior Court judges have approved 32 of 39 petitions to erase convictions for marijuana possession in the past four years, after Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and state lawmakers downgraded possession of less than a half-ounce of pot from a misdemeanor with potential jail time to a violation akin to a parking ticket, with fines ranging from $150 for a first offense to up to $500 for subsequent offenses.

Although the number of erasures is small compared with the thousands of arrests for marijuana possession in Connecticut over the years, defense lawyers expect many more people to apply as word spreads about a recent state Supreme Court decision. The court ruled in March that people have the right to get their convictions erased.

Similar efforts to remove past convictions are underway throughout the country, but little progress has been made so far.

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Connecticut Makes Move to Expand Medical Marijuana Coverage


Recently, a petition to expand the list of qualifying conditions for Connecticut’s medical marijuana program was introduced to the Medical Marijuana Program Board of Physicians.connecticut

According to Yale Daily News:

Registered patients and medical representatives attended last Wednesday’s hearing in Hartford calling for four additional medical conditions to be legally treated through medical marijuana. Members of the public gave testimonies before the board petitioning for the recognition of each of the conditions — sickle cell disease, Tourette Syndrome, psoriasis arthritis and Post-Laminectomy Syndrome — a common issue following back surgery.

The meeting concluded with the proposal left unresolved, allowing for additional testimonies and materials to be submitted to the board before Dec. 12. Commissioner of Consumer Protection William Rubenstein said that the board’s next meeting in January will deliberate on the petitions and decide whether to add the conditions.

If the board approves these conditions, members must take further steps before the additions become formally recognized. Rubenstein noted that a letter of recommendation must be submitted by the board to the commissioner of Consumer Protection before another public hearing is held. The motion will be approved only after a regulations review by the general assembly, he said.

Having only just been implemented in September, Connecticut’s medical marijuana statute allows for members of the public to request other debilitating conditions be added to the original 11 eligible for medical marijuana. However, other states have similar policies that have already been amended to include additional medical maladies.

Now that Connecticut’s medical marijuana program is underway, the state’s lawmakers must approve the expansion of coverage so that patients with conditions that could be treated with the use of medical marijuana receive their medicine and symptomatic relief as well.

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Connecticut Officials Hear Testimony on Medical Marijuana Regulations


Officials from Connecticut’s Department of Consumer Protection (DCP), which has been charged with organizing the state’s medical marijuana program, heard compelling public testimony Monday morning as the department prepares to establish rules regarding dispensary operations.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy signed a medical marijuana bill into law last May, and the state began accepting applications for medical marijuana licenses in October. Unfortunately, there are no dispensaries currently operating in the state, and it is illegal for patients to grow plants for personal use.

Tracey Fanning
Tracey Gamer Fanning

This loophole has left patients like Tracey Gamer Fanning in an unnerving legal gray-zone. Tracey was diagnosed with brain cancer in 2006. The myriad medication she was prescribed left her bedridden and unable to function. This all changed when her doctor recommend she try marijuana. “It gave me my life back,” she told CBS.

Despite the impact it’s had on Tracey’s cancer, every time she uses the drug she is breaking the law. Dedicating her limited time to medical-marijuana advocacy, Tracey lined up to speak at Monday’s hearing.

I want the politicians to see my face, the face of a mother from West Hartford who is just grateful to be at the dinner table in the evening instead of in bed, of someone who is so thankful to be part of her children’s lives, of someone who lost an advertising career but gained a life mission.

The DCP has composed a 70-page draft of regulations that mimics the state system that controls the distribution of such pharmaceuticals as OxyContin.

MPP’s Director of State Policies, Karen O’Keefe, expressed concerns over the expense of the system of production and distribution. “The provision that requires $2 million in an escrow for producers, that’s a huge sum of money,” Karen stated. “It could edge out the little guy.” MPP has submitted suggested changes to the state regulations.

The DCP will accept written comments until Friday.

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Top 10 Marijuana Victories of 2012


This past year was undeniably the most productive 365-day period in the history of the marijuana policy reform movement. There were a number of significant accomplishments, but here is the Marijuana Policy Project’s list of the “Top 10 Marijuana Victories of 2012.” As with our previous annual lists, it includes neither important scientific developments nor important international developments. Rather, this list focuses on the biggest marijuana-related policy accomplishments in the U.S. in the last year.

To read the full list, please visit The Huffington Post.


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Gov. Malloy Signs Connecticut Medical Marijuana Bill!


Gov. Dannel Malloy has signed HB 5389, officially making Connecticut the 17th medical marijuana state!

The bulk of the bill will go into effect on October 1, 2012. After that, qualifying patients will be able to obtain temporary registrations to possess marijuana.

To qualify, a patient must have a doctor’s written certification and one of the following conditions: glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, spinal cord damage causing spasms, epilepsy, cachexia, wasting syndrome, Crohn’s disease, PTSD, or a condition added by the Department of Consumer Protection.

HB 5389 provides for access through licensed dispensaries, which only pharmacists will be allowed to file applications for. Dispensaries may obtain marijuana from licensed producers, who will pay an application fee of at least $25,000.

Click here to read MPP’s summary of the new law.

This victory follows years of hard work from several organizations, seriously ill patients, legislators, and advocates. Congratulations to everyone who made it possible!

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Connecticut Legislature Decriminalizes Marijuana


The good news just keeps on coming. The Connecticut House of Representatives just passed a bill to decriminalize possession of less than half an ounce of marijuana! The Senate passed the bill over the weekend, so it now heads to the desk of Governor Dan Malloy who is sure to sign it. Malloy has been a strong supporter of decriminalization and deserves much of the credit for this bill passing.

With today’s vote, the penalty for possession of less than half an ounce of marijuana will drop from a misdemeanor to a civil violation. First offense possession of a small amount of marijuana, or paraphernalia intended for it, will be punishable by a $150 fine, with penalties escalating to $200-500 for a second offense, and mandatory treatment for a third offense. Most importantly, violators will be cited rather than arrested and will not be saddled with a criminal record. Connecticut is the 14th state to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana, joining neighboring Massachusetts, which became the 13th state when voters passed an initiative written and sponsored by MPP’s ballot committee in 2008.

Congratulations to Lorenzo Jones and the staff of A Better Way Foundation, and the Drug Policy Alliance, who together led the lobbying effort to pass SB 1014. Also, thanks and congratulations to our members in Connecticut who made calls and sent emails to their legislators in support of this common-sense reform.

Decriminalization is not the magic solution that solves all our problems, but it is a step in the right direction. During the floor debate it was noted that 20 people spent time in a Connecticut jail this year just for possession of a small amount of marijuana and, shockingly, another 10,000-12,000 were arrested for the same. That means, thanks to this bill, thousands of otherwise law-abiding people who simply choose to use a substance safer than alcohol will not be arrested and will not receive criminal records.

Makes sense to me.

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Rhode Island Legislator Facing Marijuana Possession Charges


On Friday, April 22, police at a checkpoint in Connecticut stopped Rhode Island House Minority Leader Robert Watson. Representative Watson cooperated with the police, agreeing to a Breathalyzer that resulted in a 0.05 reading (0.08 is legally impaired). During the stop, police also uncovered a small amount of marijuana and a pipe. Rep. Watson has since stated that he uses marijuana for medical purposes, but that he decided not to become a registered medical marijuana patient in Rhode Island out of confidentiality fears.

This unfortunate situation lends itself to serious contemplation of our current draconian marijuana laws. In Connecticut, as well as in Rhode Island, the possession of even a small amount of marijuana is considered a crime. Criminal convictions haunt individuals as a mark on their records, even if jail time is avoided. Many people will have a difficult time obtaining gainful employment, college admission or loans, and housing because of their record. Are these drastic results really justified for something as simple as possessing a small amount of a substance proven safer than alcohol?

Legislators in both Rhode Island and Connecticut have the opportunity this year to end the heavy-handed practice of labeling anyone a criminal for possession of a small amount of marijuana. Both states have bills pending that would decriminalize small amounts of marijuana, replacing the current criminal penalties with a more rational civil fine.

Finally, I would like to commend the minority leader for his subsequent bravery and honesty in addressing his entire chamber about this issue. He explained that prescription medications have caused severe side effects, and that marijuana alleviated bouts of pancreatitis, which put him into a coma for five days last November. I am glad he has found a medicine that helps alleviate his pain. Protecting patients, such as Rep. Watson, is why we worked so hard to pass Rhode Island’s medical marijuana law. Rhode Island’s law, for which Rep. Watson voted, includes protection from conviction for unregistered patients who have doctors’ recommendations, as well as protection from arrest for those who register.

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Election Results: The Good, The Bad, and The Undecided


We’re still tracking down all the results from yesterday’s election, but here’s a quick look at how things fared in races affecting marijuana policy.

This year witnessed historic progress in the campaign to end marijuana prohibition – but as some of these results below show, there remains much work ahead. MPP and others are already looking to build on this year’s advances by launching new campaigns in 2012.

First, the good news: Vermont, Connecticut, and Massachusetts

The only two major party gubernatorial candidates in the nation to vocally support medical marijuana and decriminalization were both victorious. Democrat Peter Shumlin won in Vermont, and Democrat Dan Malloy won in Connecticut. Both men bring renewed hope to efforts to pass more sensible marijuana laws in their respective states.

Also, in Massachusetts, voters in 18 out of 18 districts have overwhelmingly approved a series of non-binding policy questions asking whether they support medical marijuana or the regulation of marijuana like alcohol. That not only sends a strong pro-reform message to state lawmakers, but is a good sign for future efforts in Massachusetts as well.

Next, the bad news: California, Oregon, South Dakota, and New Mexico

As most readers probably already know, California’s Proposition 19, which would have made the Golden State the first in the nation to fully end the prohibition on adult marijuana use, was defeated last night. Garnering 46% of the vote, it still made history as the highest statewide vote in favor of marijuana legalization to date.

Sadly, the Obama administration took this defeat as an opportunity to spout more baseless “Reefer Madness”-style propaganda.

In Oregon, Measure 74, which would have authorized state-licensed dispensaries, also failed, as did South Dakota’s Measure 13 for medical marijuana. Pre-election polling showed both measures trailing significantly.

And in New Mexico, voters have elected Republican Susana Martinez as the state’s next governor. Martinez has previously voiced her desire to repeal New Mexico’s medical marijuana law – considered by many to be a national model for regulation.

But wait – the undecided! Arizona and California attorney general

The only marijuana ballot measure that still retains a hope of victory is Arizona’s Proposition 203, the medical marijuana initiative that would establish up to 120 licensed dispensaries in Arizona and received significant support from MPP. Current results show the measure down by fewer than 7,000 votes, but we have reports that up to 200,000 ballots have not yet been counted. It still has a chance!

And finally – in a hugely significant contest for the future of medical marijuana in California – it appears that Republican Steve Cooley is heading toward defeat in the race for California attorney general. Simply put, Cooley is a self-declared enemy of medical marijuana laws, and his election could have wrought all kinds of hardship on thousands of patients and providers throughout California.

That’s all for now. We have more updates and analysis on the way.

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Your 2010 Marijuana Policy Election Day Scorecard


Voters all across the country will cast ballots tomorrow in elections that could alter the course of U.S. marijuana policy for years to come. Here are the 9 most important contests to watch for the movement to end marijuana prohibition:

  1. California: Proposition 19 would make marijuana legal for all adults – it represents the best chance to date for a single state to overturn the failure of marijuana prohibition and offer an alternative for others to follow. It would make it legal for all adults 21 and older to possess up to one ounce of marijuana, as well as grow a 25-square-foot marijuana garden on their property. It would also allow localities to tax and regulate marijuana sales, but it remains unclear how the federal government would react if Prop 19 passes. Website:
  2. Arizona: Proposition 203, an MPP-backed initiative, would allow patients suffering from cancer, AIDS, and other life-threatening diseases to use marijuana with their doctor’s recommendation. Patients could purchase their medicine from tightly regulated, state-licensed dispensaries or grow their own if they live more than 25 miles from a clinic. Website:
  3. Oregon: Measure 74 would expand the state’s existing medical marijuana law by authorizing regulated, state-licensed nonprofit clinics to provide improved patient access to their medicine. The system would generate an estimated $3 to $20 million a year for the state through taxes and fees. Website:
  4. South Dakota: Measure 13 would allow patients suffering from cancer, AIDS and other serious ailments to use marijuana with a recommendation from their doctor. Patients could grow their own medicine or designate a caregiver to grow it for them. Website:
  5. Vermont: VOTE Peter Shumlin for governor. Shumlin (D), the state Senate pro tempore, played a major role in passing Vermont’s medical marijuana law in 2004, and has been a staunch advocate for marijuana decriminalization. MPP has spent years lobbying for a decriminalization law in Vermont. With Shumlin as governor, Vermont would be well poised to pass decriminalization and expand its medical marijuana law by authorizing licensed dispensaries. Website:
  6. California: NOT Steve Cooley for attorney general. Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley (R) is a rabid anti-marijuana zealot who has falsely claimed that all medical marijuana dispensaries are illegal, and that he would continue to prosecute adults for marijuana crimes even if voters pass Proposition 19.  If he wins the election for state attorney general, he will become the state’s top law enforcement official and could reverse years of progress toward saner marijuana laws in California. Website:
  7. New Mexico: NOT Susana Martinez for governor. Martinez (R), the leading candidate for governor, has said she will work to overturn New Mexico’s medical marijuana law if elected. New Mexico’s law enjoys wide popular support and is often described as the tightest-regulated law in the country. But Martinez believes federal law should trump a popular local law – despite the Obama administration’s promise of non-intervention in state medical marijuana laws. Website:
  8. Connecticut: VOTE Dan Malloy for governor. Malloy (D) has said that he “absolutely” supports decriminalizing marijuana, as well as medical marijuana legislation that would protect seriously ill patients from arrest. Outgoing Gov. Jodi M. Rell vetoed medical marijuana legislation in 2007. If Malloy were elected governor, proponents would be given renewed hope for passing a medical marijuana law in Connecticut. Website:
  9. Massachusetts: More than 70 local municipalities in Massachusetts will be voting on non-binding resolutions and public policy questions calling on the state government to pass medical marijuana or end marijuana prohibition entirely. These initiatives are a great opportunity for Massachusetts voters to send a strong message to their state lawmakers, as well as give local organizers a better sense of where things stand for future marijuana initiatives in Massachusetts. Website:

You can find links to other MPP state voter guides at our state page.

Now — if you haven’t already — go out and VOTE!

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