The Connecticut Senate granted final approval early Saturday to a bill that would allow the use of medical marijuana and includes strict regulations for the cultivation and distribution in an attempt to avoid problems other states have run into when legalizing the plant for medical use. The measure passed the state’s Senate 21-to-13 after nearly 10 hours of debate. It now goes to Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, who said in a statement that he plans to sign the bill into law, as he believes it would “avoid the problems encountered in some other states.” The legislation has already been passed by the Connecticut House of Representatives.
Under the legislation, marijuana would be sold in multiple forms at dispensaries, which must have a licensed pharmacist on staff. It would be marketed only to patients authorized to use it. The measure also outlines specific diseases that would be treated by the drug, establishes a registration system for patients and caregivers and restricts cultivating the plant to growers with permits. “I think experience has shown, that having statewide structures in place makes it easier for everyone to understand what the rules really are,” said Alan Shackelford, who serves on a state advisory work group for medical marijuana in Colorado and helped advise Connecticut lawmakers on their proposal.
But Sen. John Kissel, R-Enfield, said he believes the system proposed in Connecticut’s legislation is over-regulated. He said that while he agrees with some regulations in the bill, such as secure indoor growing facilities, he believes the restrictions could lead some people to obtain the drug through illegal means.
As medical marijuana becomes more established around the country, problems with regulation have arisen in states where the drug was legalized through ballot initiatives and the system was implemented without regulations in place. Some states don’t allow medical marijuana dispensaries and patients are left to grow their own. Several states have been taking steps to strengthen regulations.
Colorado imposed tight regulation and state government control over dispensaries in 2010. New Jersey and Delaware also have passed laws to strictly regulate medical marijuana. California state Sen. Mark Leno said he was working to enact legislation that would further clarify that care providers be exempt from prosecution for providing the drug to patients. “I’m hopeful that our attempts to further refine and define how to provide safe and affordable access with a physician’s recommendation, here in California, operates so the federal government will shift its priorities to more pressing needs of the American people,” Leno said.
HMJ welcomes Connecticut to America’s growing ranks of medical marijuana states. Learn more at the Boston Globe.
[image: Google images Connecticut state flag]
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