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Connecticut NORML

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director October 1, 2012

    This morning Connecticut officially became the 17th state since 1996 to allow for the physician-authorized use of cannabis as a therapeutic option for qualified patients.

    House Bill 5389 — the Palliative Use of Marijuana Act — which was signed into law on by Democrat Gov. Dan Malloy on June 1, took effect today. Online registration for qualifying patients and their physicians is now available from the Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection here.

    Applicable qualifying medical conditions under the law include: cancer, glaucoma, positive status for human immunodeficiency virus or acquired immune deficiency syndrome, 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, and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

    The Department of Consumer Protection has until July 1 to submit regulations to the General Assembly regarding the eventual state-licensed distribution of cannabis. In the interim, qualified patients will be allowed to lawfully to possess up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis. However, “until state-approved sources of medical marijuana are established, transactions to obtain the drug will still be illegal,” according to today’s Norwich Bulletin. (Home cultivation is not explicitly addressed under the statute.)

    Additional information for Connecticut patients and physicians regarding Public Act 12-55, An Act Concerning the Palliative Use of Marijuana is available online from the state Department of Consumer Protection here.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director June 4, 2012

    Democrat Gov. Dan Malloy signed legislation into law on Friday, June 1, allowing for the state-sanctioned production, distribution, and use of cannabis for therapeutic purposes. The new law – Public Act 12-55, An Act Concerning the Palliative Use of Marijuana – will take effect on October 1, 2012.

    “For years, we’ve heard from so many patients with chronic diseases who undergo treatments like chemotherapy or radiation and are denied the palliative benefits that medical marijuana would provide,” Governor Malloy said in a prepared statement. (Read it here.) “With careful regulation and safeguards, this law will allow a doctor and a patient to decide what is in that patient’s best interest.”

    Under the law, patients with a qualifying “debilitating medical condition” must receive “written certification” from a physician and register with the state’s Department of Consumer Protection (DCP). Qualifying patients and their primary caregivers will be allowed to possess a combined one-month supply of cannabis, the specific amount of which will be determined by a board consisting of eight physicians certified by appropriate medical boards and enforced through DCP regulations. Patients may obtain marijuana from certified pharmacists at licensed dispensaries, who will obtain it from licensed producers. The law allows for the licensing of at least three, but no more than ten, producers statewide.

    Said Erik Williams, Executive Director of Connecticut NORML, who assisted in drafting the bill and generated over 36,000 phone calls and e-mails to lawmakers in support of the measure, “I am so happy for all the patients who will have another medicinal option to discuss with their doctor and for all of those currently suffering with debilitating conditions who will no longer suffer the indignity of being sick and a criminal.”

    Connecticut is the 17th state since 1996 to allow for the limited legalization of medicinal cannabis. It is the fourth New England state to do so, joining Maine, Rhode Island, and Vermont — each of which allow for qualified patients to possess and cultivate limited quantities of the plant.

    Late last month, Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee signed into law similar legislation allowing for the state-licensed production and limited distribution of medicinal cannabis. Vermont lawmakers in 2011 approved a similar measure; however, to date the state has yet to license any statewide dispensaries. Presently, a total of eight state-licensed medical marijuana dispensaries are operating in Maine.

    Similar state-licensed dispensaries operate in Colorado and New Mexico. Additional licensing legislation awaits implementation in Arizona, Delaware, New Jersey, and Washington, DC.

  • by Allen St. Pierre, Former NORML Executive Director May 5, 2012

    After a raucous debate last night that lasted longer than anticipated, the Connecticut senate passed a medical cannabis bill approved by the House earlier in the session that will now head to Governor Dannel Malloy’s willing pen for signature.

    With Connecticut passing a medical cannabis bill, approximately one third of the US population now resides in a state that has decided to act in favor of it’s citizens’ will, as compared to the remarkably recalcitrant federal government, which, moronically, still insists cannabis is a dangerous ‘narcotic’ and has no accepted medical value what so ever.

    Congratulations to Connecticut NORML and it’s coordinator Erik Williams for leading the charge to write and pass this important and affirming legislation (Erik and company had previously worked the legislature hard in 2011 to pass cannabis decriminalization laws)!

    "Today is a day of hope, compassion and dignity and I thank all of the legislators who worked hard on this legislation and who voted to pass this bill," said Erik Williams, Executive Director of Connecticut NORML. "I am so happy for all the patients who will have another medicinal option to discuss with their doctor and for all of those currently suffering with debilitating conditions who will no longer suffer the indignity of being sick and a criminal."

    The statewide efforts of Connecticut NORML resulted in tens of thousands of phone calls, emails, patient and legislator meetings, and letters to legislators. "Patients and doctors told their stories and asked legislators to tell them ‘No, you haven’t suffered enough,’" said Williams. "Many others stressed that this bill did medical marijuana the correct way and that Connecticut had an opportunity to be a leader in America on this issue. Our strategy and dedication has obviously paid off."

    Connecticut’s bill creates guidelines and regulations for cultivation centers and dispensaries.

    Read more about Connecticut’s new medical cannabis law here.

    The New England clean sweep may happen this year with the New Hampshire legislature possibly overriding the Governor’s oft veto of their medical cannabis bills next week. In Massachusetts, this November voters are expected to approve by a large margin a medical cannabis legalization initiative (in 2008 Massachusetts voters approved a decriminalization initiative by a whopping sixty five percent).

    From west to east, the states with legal protections for lawful medical cannabis patients are: Hawaii, Alaska, Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Montana, Colorado, Michigan, Delaware, New Jersey, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Vermont and Maine (as well as the District of Columbia).

    Help us reform the marijuana laws in your state by making a donation to NORML today! Together we WILL legalize cannabis.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director June 7, 2011

    Connecticut lawmakers moments ago voted 90 to 57 in favor of Senate Bill 1014, decriminalizing the possession of small amounts of cannabis for personal use by adults. Senate lawmakers had narrowly approved an amended version of the measure on Saturday; House lawmakers concurred with the Senate today, sending the measure to Democrat Gov. Dannel Malloy — who will sign it into law.

    As amended, SB 1014 reduces the penalties for the adult possession of up to one-half ounce of marijuana from a criminal misdemeanor (punishable by one year in jail and a $1,000 fine) to a non-criminal infraction, punishable by a fine, no jail time, and no criminal record. (This measure would similarly reduce penalties on the possession of marijuana paraphernalia.)

    Once signed into law, Connecticut will become the fourteenth state to replace criminal sanctions and arrest for minor marijuana possession with largely non-criminal sanctions. (Seven states pose no criminal sanctions for cannabis possession; six states have eliminated the potential for jail terms for first offenses, but still classify the offense as a misdemeanor or minor misdemeanor.)

    Connecticut is only the second state to enact decriminalization legislatively in the past decade. (Massachusetts enacted a similar law via ballot initiative in 2009.)

    NORML supporters, and Connecticut NORML’s regional organizer and state lobbyist Erik Williams, played a significant role in sheparding this legislation through the State House — generating thousands of phone calls and e-mails to lawmakers at a time when political experts were alleging that the measure lacked the political will for passage. Below is a message from Erik Williams:

    Dear CT NORML Friends and Supporters,

    We did it! Moments ago, the Connecticut House of Representatives passed SB 1014, Decriminalizing Small Amounts of Marijuana. The Governor has pledged to sign the bill into law.

    Thank you for all of your hard work in making this a reality. Connecticut has taken a first step in addressing the outdated and unworkable War on Drugs, which costs taxpayers $billions every year and ruins individual lives and devastates communities.

    While this is clearly a victory for CT NORML and the State of Connecticut, it is bittersweet as the Medical Marijuana bill has yet to be brought for a vote in the Senate. If it were to be brought for a vote, it would easily pass with both Republicans and Democrats supporting the measure. I pledge right now to all of you who have fought so hard with me for the legalization of medical marijuana that I will not give up until nobody stands in the way of you and your doctor making medical decisions. I will not give up until compassion is the main driver of public policy replacing political posturing, demagoguery and fear. I will not stop working until medical marijuana is legalized and I ask you to continue to fight by my side.

    Connecticut’s legislative session ends tomorrow, but there is still time to act in favor of medical cannabis. If you live in Connecticut, please contact the office of Sen. Don Williams, President Pro Tempore, and urge him to allow the 2011 medical marijuana bill to receive a floor vote. You can also contact your own individual Senator via NORML’s ‘Take Action Center’ here.