May 072012
 May 7, 2012

connecticut marijuanaThe Connecticut Senate passed the Palliative Use of Marijuana Act 21 to 13, after a nearly 10-hour debate. Gov. Dannel P. Malloy is expected to sign the bill, which would take effect Oct. 1, 2012. Provisions on registering patients, caregivers, pharmacies and producers and on establishing a Board of Physicians would be effective as soon as the Governor signs the bill.

Under the bill, the Department of Consumer Protection is charged with administering the medical marijuana program, including a registry for patients and their caregivers. First, a physician must certify that the patient has a debilitation medical condition. This is the list of approved debilitating conditions: cancer, glaucoma, HIV, AIDS, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, damage to the nervous tissue of the spinal cord with objective neurological indication of intractable spasticity, epilepsy, cachexia, wasting syndrome, Crohn’s disease, or post-traumatic stress disorder.

Patients will not be able to grow their own meds. Instead, they or their caregivers must obtain medical cannabis from pharmacies with dispensary licenses issued by the Department of Consumer Protection. Growers may apply for a license to cultivate marijuana, but there is a $25,000 non-refundable application fee.

Here is a Q and A on Connecticut Medical Marijuana from The Hartford Courant

Q. Who would be eligible to use medical marijuana, if the proposed legislation becomes law?

A. To qualify, a patient would need to be certified by a physician as having a debilitating medical condition – cancer, glaucoma, HIV, AIDS, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, damage to the nervous tissue of the spinal cord with objective neurological indication of intractable spasticity, epilepsy, cachexia, wasting syndrome, Crohn’s disease or post-traumatic stress disorder – or any medical condition, medical treatment or disease approved by the Department of Consumer Protection and a Board of Physicians that would be established. Patients would have to be at least 18. Prison inmates could not qualify, regardless of their medical condition.

Q. What about other medical conditions for which patients could benefit from medical marijuana?

A. An eight-member Board of Physicians would be established, including physicians and surgeons who are board-certified in one of the following specialties: neurology, pain medicine, pain management, medical oncology, psychiatry, infectious disease, family medicine or gynecology. The board would be able to determine additional medical conditions, medical treatments or diseases that qualify for palliative use of marijuana. A process to petition the board and to comment on additions under consideration would be established.

Q. How would patients obtain medically approved marijuana?

A. Marijuana would be dispensed only by pharmacists specifically licensed to dispense it to patients with a certificate from a physician. A qualifying patient and his or her primary caregiver would be required to register with the Department of Consumer Protection. A primary caregiver who has ever been convicted of violating any law pertaining to a controlled substance would not be permitted to register.

Q. What would a physician have to do to prescribe marijuana?

A. The physician would be required to make a medically reasonable assessment that it would be in the patient’s best interest, based on the patient’s medical history and medical condition, in the course of a bona fide physician-patient relationship. The physician who diagnosed the qualifying patient also would have to explain the potential risks and benefits of palliative marijuana to the patient or, if the patient lacks legal capacity, to the patient’s parent, guardian or other legal custodian. Physicians could not have any financial interest in a pharmacy licensed to dispense marijuana.

Q. Would every pharmacy in the state dispense medical marijuana?

A. No. Licensed pharmacies would need to obtain a dispensary license from the commissioner of the Department of Consumer Protection. The commissioner would determine the maximum number of licenses appropriate to meet the needs of qualifying patients in the state. The commissioner also would develop regulations on how often pharmacies would have to renew their dispensary licenses (at least every two years), licensing fees and areas where dispensaries could not be located, based on the criteria governing the location of retail liquor premises.

Q. Who would grow the marijuana?

A. The consumer protection commissioner would license producers to cultivate marijuana and distribute it within the state. At any one time, the number of licensed producers would have to be at least three and not more than 10. Producers would have to pay a nonrefundable application fee of at least $25,000 for a producer license, and licenses would have to be renewed at least every five years. Producers would have to demonstrate that they could grow pharmaceutical-grade marijuana in a secure indoor facility and also have the ability to prevent diversion or theft of the marijuana they grow.

Q. Would patients be permitted to grow their own marijuana?

A. No.

Q. Would patients be able to use medical marijuana anywhere?

A. No. The law would prohibit ingesting marijuana in a bus, a school bus or any moving vehicle; in the workplace; on any school grounds or any public or private school, dormitory, college or university property; in any public place; or in the presence of anyone under 18. It also would prohibit any use of palliative marijuana that endangers the health or well-being of another person, other than the patient or primary caregiver.

Q. How much marijuana could a patient have on hand?

A. No more than a one-month supply.

Q. Could a landlord refuse to rent to someone or take action against a tenant because the tenant uses medical marijuana?

A. No.

Q. Could a school refuse to enroll someone because the person qualifies to use medical marijuana?

A. No.

Q. Could an employer decide not to hire someone or decide to fire that person because the person uses medical marijuana?

A. No.

Q. What are the main arguments against the bill?

A. The Connecticut Medical Society contends that more research is needed to adequately determine how well medical marijuana works. It also cites concerns about quality control and standardization, as well as contamination with pesticides and microbes, and argues that patients cannot be assured a reliable and reproducible dose. U.S. Attorney David Fein says the state law would authorize conduct contrary to federal law and undermine the federal government’s efforts to regulate the possession, manufacture and trafficking of controlled substances. Fein said theU.S. Justice Department would not focus on seriously ill individuals who use marijuana, but that it would pursue growing facilities and dispensaries that would be violating federal law. The legislation’s opponents also say that marijuana is a dangerous drug and that legalizing its use would send the wrong message to young people.

Q. Is this the first time Connecticut legislators have tried to pass a medical marijuana bill?

A. No. Lawmakers passed a medical marijuana bill in 2007, but Gov.M. Jodi Rell vetoed it. Last year, Gov.Dannel P. Malloy backed a medical marijuana bill that would have allowed qualifying patients to grow their own marijuana for medicinal use but it failed to become law, although lawmakers did approve the decriminalization of a small amount of marijuana.

Q. Where does the proposed law stand at this point?

A. Late last Wednesday the House approved the measure 91-56. It still awaits action in the Senate. [Editors note: The Senate passed the measure on May 5] If Gov. Dannel P. Malloy then signs the bill, it would take effect Oct. 1, 2012. Provisions on registering patients, caregivers, pharmacies and producers and on establishing a Board of Physicians would take effect immediately.

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About TJ Green

I'm an Attorney, Activist, Chef, and Gardener--poking holes in the media filter that obscures the truth about ganja in this country daily.
  • malcolmkyle

    Prescription drugs kill some 200,000 Americans every year.

    http://www.vanityfair.com/politics/features/2011/01/deadly-medicine-201101?currentPage=all

    “An estimated 770,000 people are injured or die each year in hospitals from adverse drug events (ADEs) defined as an injury resulting from medical intervention related to a drug. Not all, but many, IF NOT MOST, of these adverse drug events are preventable.”

    http://www7.nationalacademies.org/ocga/testimony/Patient_Safety_and_Medication_Errors.asp

    * The number of deaths from drug poisonings in the U.S. has increased sixfold since 1980.

    * In 2008, more than 41,000 people in the U.S. died from intentional and accidental poisonings – Nine out of 10 were due to drugs. These deaths exceeded the number of deaths from automobile accidents making poisoning the leading cause of injury death. (CDC National Center for Health Statistics 1980 to 2008)

    Fully 40% of these deaths in 2008 involved the use of prescription opioid pain relievers such as codeine, fentanyl, hydrocodone, morphine, and oxycodone, (was 25% in 1999) – In 2008, Cocaine was involved in about 5,100 deaths and heroin was involved in about 3,000 deaths.

    http://www.webmd.com/pain-management/news/20111220/deaths-drug-poisoning-in-us-jump-sixfold

    * PRESCRIPTION PAINKILLERS: drugs like oxycodone and hydrocodone, the main ingredients in Oxycontin and Vicodin, landed 305,885 Americans in emergency rooms in 2008 — more than double the 144,644 visits in 2004, (2010 study by Samsha and the CDC)

    Overdose deaths involving these opioid pain relievers (oxycodone and hydrocodone; and synthetic narcotics such as fentanyl and propoxyphene) now exceed deaths from heroin and cocaine combined (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

    Prescription drug overdoses have been increasing in the United States over the last decade, and by 2008 had reached 36,450 deaths – almost as many as from motor vehicle crashes (39,973).

    http://www.acep.org/MobileArticle.aspx?id=82888&coll_id=720&parentid=740

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Lorenzo-Middleton/1269367085 Lorenzo Middleton

      This post has no place here. Not one marijuana use related death recorded in the history of mankind.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/FYNM4LGYNM34LJW62CEKBCES3U Joe D

    I thought this might be a boon to the local economy – but with that $25k fee and a cap of just 10 places allowed to grow, it’s really just a state-regulated monopoly.  Fail, CT gov, fail.

  • Daram12755

    It is not a dangerous drug and this is all slanted towards the way the media presents it.  It is natural and who is anyone to say it was not created for medicinal purposes.  Man is assuming it is dangerous but alchohol is MORE DANGEROUS THAN POT ANYDAY OF THE  YEAR.  The media is trying to make it look and sound like an addictive, hallucinagenic which it IS NOT.  This is all hype that the opponents want the public to believe.  It just is not true.  The opponents must make money somewhere leaving the law the way it is.  The almighty dollar is usually at the root of it all and of course it is here as well in this situation.  If you have a serious condition/disease/chronic pain, then you should have the right to use it as medicine.  Tea is a great way to feel better.  I have fibromyralgia/lyme disease/panic disorder and weed is not for my recreational use but it helps people like myself live a more normal life and it does help you feel better.  It is not addictive and I have never heard of a suiw(smoking under influence of weed) but I have heard and seen MANY
    DUI’S.  Get with reality on this topic. The picture needs to change and the truth needs to be exposed about marijuana.  It is no herion, meth, coke.  It is a natural substance created by God.  He created it. He had to have a good use for creating it.  We are interpreting that it is bad, not Him.Â

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/T44UYWITMJPTTEV2ROKF2ELZAU Robin Spake

    What will the Federal government do? I have epilepsy. In 1998 I had been diagnosed as terminally ill because my epilepsy was not treatable by any intervention, (including investigational drugs/devices). I had been living in Pa at the time. I later married a woman who also has epilepsy but is under control by conventional medication. She was taking care of me until we divorced, a year later. I moved to my own rental home. It was, and is, illegal to use marijuana in IA for any reason. The police escort an ambulance to the ER. They had taken me to the E.R. every day, sometimes 2 x day. They had picked up off of the sidewalk. I met a neighbor who’s wife had a pinched nerve in her spine and was allergic to all Rx pain meds. She was using Marijuana for pain control. I tried it for my seizures and it worked. I stopped all seizures and relieved all pain and misery that happens when you have seizures. It cleared my mind and ended my depression. It was if I did not have epilepsy. The police knew that I and ‘Sara’ (not her real name) were both smoking marijuana for entirely medial reasons. There are many people in the small farm town in IA were we were living who use marijuana as a medication. Every patient who uses marijuana for a plainly medical need is not arrested by the local police. The police are decent folk. They arrest the pill heads and meth users, they arrest the people addicting children and the sex perverts, as well kids who smoke marijuana to get stoned. IA is in the mid-west. The mid west live by the code of common sense. We would not need special laws to protect a patient from using marijuana as a medication if the police were all like the officers in small towns in IA. Thankfully, I no longer have to use marijuana as medicine. Today they have good Rx drugs. You need to use marijuana in a special way . In all seizure and movement/spasticity disorders, as well as in some auto-immune disorders, high levels of THC will -TRIGGER- seizures. Patients dose themselves. THC is chemical that causes euphoria. Because if makes you feel good, you have the THC bliss incentive to smoke more of it. THC is tricky that way. It can be a problem. At first I was smoking a LOT of it. I was used to the idea that you should take a med to prevent seizures, (as Rx AEDs do). That always leads to smoking too much. I had seizures from the THC. I ‘solved’ that by smoking more marijuana. It will work, you have to seriously chase up the dose. I was so stoned that I was unable to function. I need help just to walk to the bathroom because I was too dizzy. I was a blob, goofy, and giddy. I had no choice because the marijuana was literally keeping me alive. Later, I discovered that I don’t need that much marijuana to control seizures. Instead, I waited until I started to have a cluster of seizures. I then smoked enough to stop them. At that dose the anticonvulsant effect from the marijuana lasts for a few hours. The key to judge the correct dose (not too much  so that THC is proconvulsant) but enough for it to be therapeutic is never smoke it until you feel high. Smoke it until it relaxes your brain (and so too you). A high is bad idea for patients who need marijuana and want to function (except for some people who are in great misery, such as pain patients, cancer patients, and AIDS pts). The principles of therapeutics is Treat the condition, Relieve Pain and suffering, and to Restore the patient to a full and productive life. If you are stoned, you can not function. Marijuana must be used as a medine a drug, and not as a drug that can also make you feel good. When a drug also makes you feel good, such as oxycontin, your get dependency (and in a narcotic, also addiction). I speak to many medical marijuana patients (via Internet). Everyone wishes that they don’t want the high, just the medicine. I met one lady who has MS. Marijuana is the only drug on the planet that treats her. She is also the mother of 2 small children. She can not be impaired by THC and be a mom to her kids. There is a way to use marijuana where you are not affected by THC. Marijuana THC occurs as THC acid (and as THCV acid). It also has CBN (which affects how you metabolize THC – it makes you higher but has a shorter high). Your body can not metabolize THC as an acid. It must be heated/smoked, dissolved in a solvent (such as alcohol) or dissolved in to an edible fat (such as butter) or in an edible food oil). People make cannabutter or Hemp oil, or tincture. You can (with great difficulty and at great expense) juice it (like a carrot, (much more complicated that a carrot juicer). The juice must be filtered and concentrated, then mixed with a non-sweet, non oil/fat juice (such as carrot juice) because marijuana juice is extremely bitter. It can be sipped. Since you can not metabolize THC acid, it passes through you, unchanged. You will be unaffected by the THC. I prefer a small amount of THC, as it treats depression. I need to be careful – the dose that treats depression must never make me feel high.
    The Federal government will arrest you - no matter what. It is very expensive to try cases as well as incarerate people. Billions of dollars a year. I Philadelphia, Pa, the city passed a law making marijuana a civil penalty. If caught with a small amount of marijuana you will be fined. No court record to follow you (court records cost money), and no police time (they have to testify at criminal hearings). It’s like paying a library fine. Marijuana is also Folk Medicine. It is not going to go away.

  • P.Ace

    I think that the patients should be able to grow the marijuana that the would would use. It would make more since for the patient to be able to grow at least one or two instead of having to go to a shop of pharmacy to obtain medical marijuana. I think that the is going to be use to have more control over money less then legalizing marijuana. I think if I was able to grow two plants of my own and I have a MMID ( medical marijuana I.D) I should be able to do that. Other then not being to grow own medical marijuana with out have to buy a twenty five thousand dollar licences, I think that it is good that connecticut is passing the medical marijuana bill. My name is Stacey A Ellis from Stamford and I would love to join the medical marijuana program in Connecticut.

  • Ashley

    Hi- ive been in pain management for a few years now. I have a chronic auto-immune disease that attacks my spine, joints & soft tissues, thus I suffer chronic pain 24-7. I take two 40 mg Opana 2x per day & three 10mg oxycodone per day for breakthrough. I’m a 30 year old female & the amount I take doesn’t even touch my pain level, and I’ve developed a tolerance in a few short years and I have a long road ahead & many more years to suffer through as my disease is degenerative. With that said because its auto immune and most of the problemis due to uncontrollable inflammation (I am on Humira too & a cancer med although really I’m not responsive to these meds) my rheumatologist & physician seem to think marijuana will help control the inflammation & my pain, and it has actually done so for many with these diseases. My pain doctor will trot even talk about it and my other dr while supportive and will support with documentation doesn’t really want to be involved… Does anyone know of any pain linics in CT who are known to prescribe it? Thanks :)

  • WoodyMike

    Just to begin. As an epileptic, who has found marijuana to be one of the best controllers of my seizures, I asked my Dr., but he decided to give me more drugs from the pharmacy. For one thing, I know my body better than he does, and I can tell what gives and doesn’t give me seizures. Marijuana has been a good ‘before bed’ medication that I have used, especially when I have more stress, NOT drugs such as Xanax. Why is it that the Dr. insists on pushing 4 different medications in me, when all it can do is change my body’s metabolism, and make me age faster. When I know how my body works, I try to do the best I can for myself. At first, I was given Dilantin, which I rarely ever took unless I felt auras of seizures. Otherwise, in those days, since I was taking Valium, I used to be called “Spacey Mikie” because the Valium would put me in a near sleepy state. And after research, I found that Dilantin was not good for the bones. All I needed was to keep taking it, and by the time I got to the age I am now, my bones would be too weak to support my muscles, which are what I need in any job I do. When I ever do it now, it is in my home, with no one knowing so I wouldn’t have someone asking for some, which is the same I would do if I could get a prescription for it. All I am hoping to do is find a Dr. better than the one I have been seeing for too many years, which can prescribe for me what I know would do better than supporting all these drug companies.