Eight of the last ten years, the use of medical marijuana has been brought to Connecticut’s legislature’s attention but has only cleared the House of Representatives twice. One of these times being in 2004 and another in 2007. However, the fight for marijuana legalization in Connecticut has now taken a step closer into becoming a reality late Wednesday night.
After the State House of Representatives conducted a vote which favored the bill 96-51, it would now enable the legalization of medicinal cannabis for patients suffering from certain illnesses such as AIDS, glaucoma, multiple sclerosis and cancer.
With a physician’s permission and specific prescription, patients could obtain a one-month supply of marijuana strictly for medical use. The passing of the bill would allow some producers of marijuana to cultivate and grow, and licensed pharmacists would provide the marijuana to the patients directly. In order for patients to be able to continue smoking medical marijuana, they would need to re-qualify every year.
Originally introduced by the Judiciary Committee on February 29, the bill titled HB 5389, would establish a legal medicinal marijuana program in Connecticut and would also provide specific guidelines for doctor-qualified conditions.
Oppositions of the bill argue that HB 5389 would violate federal laws that not only prohibit the use of marijuana, but also its language that can be used often too loosely in terms of actual illnesses. Connecticut State Sen. Robert Kane said he does not support the bill because it covers “less severe” illnesses such as chronic back pain and also because of the bill’s nature of “direct conflict” or contradiction in regards to federal law.
Proponents of the legalization of medicinal marijuana have said that the clash with federal law has not disconcerted other states efforts to provide medicinal marijuana services to patients. The bill has the support of a vast majority of Connecticut’s residents, according to a recent poll conducted in March by Quinnipiac University. The poll’s results showed 68% supporting the legalization of medical marijuana in regulated amounts for patients with chronic illnesses, and 27% saying they were opposed entirely.
What’s the next stop for the Connecticut medical marijuana bill? The State Senate. Sometime next week, the fate of the practice and expansion of medical marijuana will be debated. As for whether or not the bill will be passed, Republican Roland Lemar, representing New Haven, said “the votes are there”.