The Connecticut Legislature, which convened on January 4, is expected to consider legislation that would end marijuana prohibition for adult use and replace it with a system that would tax and regulate marijuana like alcohol.
Voters in nearby Massachusetts and Maine have voted to legalize marijuana and regulate it like alcohol. While polling shows 63% of Connecticut voters support this policy change, Connecticut lacks a ballot initiative process, so it’s crucial voters reach out to their elected officials. If you are a Connecticut resident, please tell your lawmakers to support sensible marijuana policy reform.
This week, a new law that improves Connecticut’s medical marijuana program went into effect. Among other changes, for the first time, certain patients who are under 18 now qualify to use medical cannabis in the Constitution state. Previously, Connecticut had been the only medical marijuana state to completely exclude seriously ill minors from its program.
To participate in the Connecticut medical marijuana program, minors must have been diagnosed with terminal illness, an irreversible spinal cord injury, cerebral palsy, cystic fibrosis, or severe or intractable epilepsy. In addition, they must have a written certification from two doctors — a primary care provider and a specialist. Finally, a parent or guardian must submit a written statement consenting to the patient using medical cannabis and agreeing to serve as the minor’s primary caregiver.
The new law extends legal protections to nurses who administer medical marijuana to patients in hospitals, and it also creates a research program. The department is now accepting research applications from hospitals, universities, dispensaries, and growers. Research subjects and employees of approved applicants will also have to register with the department.
Earlier this month, Gov. Dannel Malloy signed HB 5450, which will make changes to Connecticut’s medical marijuana program including to allow certain patients who are under 18 to access medical cannabis. The bill previously passed the House 129 to 3 and the Senate 23 to 1.
To participate in Connecticut’s medical marijuana program, minors will have to have been diagnosed with terminal illness, an irreversible spinal cord injury, cerebral palsy, cystic fibrosis, or severe or intractable epilepsy. In addition, they must have a written certification from two doctors — a primary care provider and a specialist. Finally, a parent or guardian must also submit a written statement of consent and attest that they will serve as the minor patient’s primary caregiver.
Connecticut first enacted medical marijuana legislation in 2012, but the law did not allow access for minor patients, many of whom would benefit greatly from access to this safe and effective treatment. Of the 24 states that have effective medical marijuana programs, Connecticut is the last state to exclude younger patients.
The new law will also extend legal protections to nurses who administer medical marijuana to patients in hospitals, and creates a research program. It goes into effect on October 1.
On June 1, 2012, Connecticut enacted a medical marijuana program that allows seriously ill patients access to medical marijuana. However, the law does not allow access for minor patients, many of whom would benefit greatly from access to this safe and effective treatment. Of the 24 states that have effective medical marijuana programs, Connecticut is the only state that does not allow access for younger patients.
A bill currently being considered, HB 5450, would allow minors to be qualifying patients. It would also allow dispensaries to distribute marijuana to hospices and other inpatient facilities and would allow nurses to administer marijuana in licensed health care facilities.
Last week, 10 Connecticut state representatives introduced HB 5236, legislation that would legalize the sale and use of marijuana for adults. While it is unlikely HB 5236 will pass during this year’s short session, garnering co-sponsors and holding a hearing this year will help build the foundation for passage down the road.
In addition to the four states and Washington D.C. that have already legalized adult use, several of Connecticut’s neighbor states are currently considering legalization including Massachusetts, Vermont, and Rhode Island.
Legalizing marijuana for adults makes the illicit marijuana trade obsolete and would create much-needed revenue to the state during a time of financial hardship. In 2015, Colorado’s system of marijuana regulation brought in over $135 million in revenue for the state.
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 pain 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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"Marijuana in its natural form is one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man. By any measure of rational analysis marijuana can be safely used within a supervised routine of medical care. ... It would be unreasonable, arbitrary and capricious for DEA to continue to stand between those sufferers and the benefits of this substance in light of the evidence in this record."