Updated on January 4, 2020.
Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer
Connecticut opened medical marijuana access to numerous patients on August 28, 2018. The Regulation Review Committee created eight more approved conditions for medicinal cannabis treatment. While adults qualify for all eight conditions, two of the ailments apply to minors under 18. Discover these new qualifying conditions and how they will impact patients in Connecticut.
New Approved Conditions in Connecticut
The Connecticut General Assembly added many ailments to an already robust list of qualifications. Six of the eight new approved conditions apply to adults only:
Osteogenesis imperfecta, also known as brittle bone disease
This update to the Connecticut medical marijuana program brings the number of total qualifying conditions for adults up to 30 and the total for minors up to eight. At the date of the official press release, Connecticut had 27,340 patients registered for the program.
The History of Connecticut Medical Marijuana
Connecticut has a short history of medical cannabis policy changes. They started to have a more progressive stance on marijuana in 2011 when they decriminalized small possession charges. This change reduced the punishment for minor offenses to a $150 fine. One year later in 2012, Connecticut legalized medical marijuana. The state’s first dispensary opened in 2014. Officials added more conditions to the program in 2016, including cancer, HIV/AIDS and glaucoma. However, nothing else changed in the years between legalization and today.
Many advocates push for the legalization of recreational marijuana in Connecticut, but they still have work to do. According to a Quinnipiac University poll, the majority of voters approved of recreational marijuana in 2014. Four years later, these voters now have experience living in a medical marijuana state. This normalization may create an even larger majority of voters who approve. The addition of eight more conditions may also further change attitudes.
Connecticut Medicinal Cannabis and Pain Conditions
All eight conditions approved by officials have one symptom in common — pain. The official list of qualifying conditions does not count chronic pain as an ailment on its own. Patients must have pain caused by one of the listed conditions, so they can’t qualify by having pain issues alone. These new additions open up care to patients with pain conditions that impact numerous Americans.
Consider the following statistics concerning the added conditions:
Chronic pain impacts one in four Americans. It causes disability, high costs in medical care and lost wages. Various conditions cause chronic pain, so listing a limited amount of pain-related ailments prevents many patients from receiving care. These developments in Connecticut program rules will hopefully act as a step toward care for all pain patients.
Greater Access for Patients
State officials expect more patients to join the Connecticut medical marijuana program in response to this update. However, they don’t have any exact estimates of how many will register. The program changes came into effect the week after the official announcement. Once the regulations became official, registration for the new conditions was available within 24 hours. According to the Department of Consumer Protection, it takes 30 days to process medical marijuana applications. We will have the earliest numbers of new patient registrations in October 2018 and later. Stay tuned for more Connecticut medical cannabis updates.
Potential Increase in Dispensaries and Growers
The new approved conditions in Connecticut could build momentum for advocates looking to increase the state’s number of dispensaries and growers. As we mentioned earlier, thousands of patients participate in the medical marijuana program. However, they have only nine dispensaries and four growers who can provide medicine.
At the beginning of 2018, lawmakers stated that they planned to issue more dispensary licenses by the end of the year. They aim to open between three and 10 dispensaries in total. Ideally, the increase in qualifying conditions will encourage them to approve a higher number of the 73 total applicants.
Impact on Recreational Legalization
The 2018 deadline for recreational marijuana legalization in Connecticut already passed by the time of this program expansion. Lawmakers did not consider marijuana-related bills before the year’s legislative deadlines despite the hard work of activists. Medicinal cannabis business earns tax revenue for the state, and extra earnings could encourage officials to reconsider recreational sales. Nearby Massachusetts recently legalized recreational marijuana. Pressure from surrounding states like Massachusetts could have a positive impact, as well.
The Future of Connecticut Medical Marijuana
Connecticut’s new additions to the medical marijuana program look promising for the future of the medicinal cannabis community. However, the state still has far to go as part of a country with increasingly liberal cannabis laws. At the time of writing, nine states and the District of Columbia have legalized recreational marijuana, and 30 have legalized medical marijuana.
Even though Connecticut has 30 qualifying conditions, states such as California and Oklahoma have much broader regulations. At MarijuanaDoctors.com, we feel optimistic about the future of cannabis and consider this development a step forward for patients in need.
Learn More About Cannabis Medicine in Connecticut
MarijuanaDoctors.com has all the resources you need to learn about medical marijuana in Connecticut. Visit these pages for more information about Connecticut medical marijuana:
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