A hearing was held Wednesday to discuss a proposed medical marijuana bill in Connecticut. This is not the first attempt at medical marijuana legalization in the state, but so far it seems like the most promising one.
This year’s version of the legislation proposes a specific system for licensing medical marijuana producers in the state, how the medicine will be dispensed, and how patients will be qualified and registered. In previous years, General Assembly members had complained that there was not a clear plan for the system that would be put into place. This year’s proposal directly addresses those concerns.
Representative John Hetherington, one of the committee’s members who had been concerned about the program in the past stated, “I think this may be the year. This bill takes care of a lot of the concerns that I have had.”
Another Representative, Penny Bacchiochi, first supported the legislation 10 years ago. She said the current version of the legislation addresses the issues that have arisen in other medical states, such as California and Colorado. An example of one of the guidelines inspired by what has happened in other states is that the Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection would determine the exact number of collectives to open in the state, based on the patient population. Lawmakers in Connecticut hope that this will eliminate concern of over-saturation of collectives by members of their communities.
While the changes to the bill have swayed some members of the legislature, not all are convinced. Senator Toni Boucher, R-Wilton said the changes made to the bill haven’t persuaded her to support the legislation. She has acknowledged, however, that she would back the bill if it only affected the terminally ill, excluding people with debilitating illnesses. She is worried about marijuana being a “gateway drug” and increasing recreational use amongst adolescents in the state.
At the hearing, there were a number of individuals who spoke out about the medical benefits that they had received from using marijuana medicinally, and the peace of mind that legal access would provide them as they continued to manage illnesses such as Parkinson’s Disease, Crohn’s Disease, Multiple Sclerosis, and PTSD.