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Connecticut Medical Marijuana: Ready For Gov.’s Signature

Connecticut Medical Marijuana: Ready For Gov.’s Signature

Posted by Marijuana Doctors on 05/08/2012 in Medical Marijuana Legalization

On Saturday, a landmark piece of legislation passed through the Connecticut State Senate, approving a bill legalizing marijuana for medical purposes. With Connecticut lawmaker’s approval of the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes, it includes strict regulations for the cultivation and distribution of marijuana in an attempt to avoid the same problems that other states have run into when legalizing marijuana for medical use.

After a lengthy ten hour debate, passed by a 21-13 measure early Saturday by the Connecticut state Senate, the bill is headed to Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s desk, who said in a statement that he plans to sign it, as he believes the law would “avoid the problems encountered in some other states.”

Connecticut Marijuana Distribution

Since California passed the country’s first such law in 1996, sixteen states and the District of Columbia now have laws authorizing the use of medical marijuana. States have struggled with both disorganization and clashes with the federal government, which considers the drug of no medicinal value and illegal, however, this bill moves away from the highly criticized precedent set in California, proposing a complex system of cultivation, dispensing and licensing. Many advocates have said that the Connecticut proposal goes further than any other state in regulating the drug.

Under this legislation, marijuana can and would be sold in multiple forms at dispensaries, which is required to have a licensed pharmacist on staff. Marijuana would strictly only be marketed to the patients who are authorized to use it. The measure also outlines debilitating conditions and diseases that would be treated by the drug such as cancer, glaucoma, HIV, AIDS, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. The measure also establishes a registry for patients and caregivers and restricts cultivating the plants to growers with permits. Patients and caregivers must register with the Department of Consumer Protection.

Connecticut Marijuana Regulation

Alan Shackelford, who serves on a state advisory work group for medical marijuana in Colorado, helped advise Connecticut lawmakers on their proposal. Shackelford said, “Experience has shown that having statewide structures in place makes it easier for everyone to understand what the rules really are.” Although opponents of the bill in Connecticut read a letter from United States attorney David Fein, that called the bill a violation of federal law and argued that the bill’s passage would lead to crimes like the 2007 Cheshire home invasion. For those who are unaware to the Cheshire home invasion of 2007, it occurred on July 23 when a mother and her two daughters were murdered during a home invasion in Cheshire, Connecticut. It has been noted as possibly the most widely publicized crime in the state’s history. However, none of the 48 amendments filed against the bill were passed.

In addition to boosted federal efforts to shut down dispensaries in California and Colorado, just to a lesser extent, problems with regulation have arisen in states where the drug was legalized through ballot initiatives and advocates say the system was implemented without regulations in place. In some states however, they don’t allow medical marijuana dispensaries and patients are left to grow their own medicinal marijuana. Due to these actions, states have been taking steps forward in strengthening their rules and regulations. Colorado imposed tight regulations and state government control over dispensaries in 2010, while New Jersey and Delaware have also passed laws to strictly regulate medical marijuana.

Mark Leno, California state Senator, said he was working to enact a legislation that would further clarify care providers from being exempt from prosecution for providing the drug to the patients. Leno however, said he is skeptic in the uncertainty of state’s attempts to improve regulation and succeed in reducing federal scrutiny. He points to small patient-owned and patient-run dispensaries in his district that the federal government has shut down.

Department of Justice spokeswoman, Allison Price, said in a statement that the department “is focusing its limited resources on significant drug traffickers, not seriously ill individuals who are in compliance with applicable state medical marijuana statues.”

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