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  • 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 Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director July 5, 2011

    Democratic Gov. Dan Malloy signed legislation into law on Thursday, June 30 ‘decriminalizing’ the possession of small, personal use amounts of marijuana by adults. The new law, Senate Bill 1014, took effect on Friday, July 1.

    Senate Bill 1014 reduces the penalties for the adult possession of up to one-half ounce of marijuana from a criminal misdemeanor (formerly punishable by one year in jail and a $1,000 fine) to a non-criminal infraction, punishable by a $150 fine, no arrest or jail time, and no criminal record. The new law similarly reduces penalties for the possession of marijuana paraphernalia.

    Connecticut’s new law is similar to the existing ‘decriminalization’ laws in California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nebraska, New York, and Oregon where private, non-medical possession of marijuana is treated as a civil, non-criminal offense.

    Five additional states — Minnesota, Mississippi, Nevada, North Carolina, and Ohio — treat marijuana possession offenses as a fine-only misdemeanor offense. Alaska law imposes no criminal or civil penalty for the private possession of small amounts of marijuana by adults.

    Lawmakers in California and Kentucky previously enacted laws this year reducing penalties for marijuana possession.

    Additional information on this law will appear in this week’s NORML news update. To receive these e-mail updates free, please sign up here.

  • 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.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director June 6, 2011

    Connecticut: Immediate action is needed in the Nutmeg State. Members of the state Senate on Saturday narrowly approved legislation so that the adult possession of marijuana is reduced from a misdemeanor (punishable by one year in jail and a $1,000 fine) to an infraction, punishable by a fine, no jail time, and no criminal record. This measure would similarly reduce penalties on the possession of marijuana paraphernalia. Your efforts have truly made a different in this battle, as the bill passed by a single vote — and only weeks earlier political pundits were calling the chances of this bill’s success to be slim and none.

    But we still have a tremendous amount of work before us. Senate Bill 1014 must still be approved by the House Floor by this coming Wednesday!  Whether the floor will take the time to act on it will be decided by House Speaker Chris Donovan (D-Meriden). Please take a moment to contact him directly, leaving a polite message for his staff urging him to schedule a floor vote for SB 1014. You can also contact your own individual House Representative via NORML’s ‘Take Action Center’ here.

    Separate legislation to approve the limited use of medical cannabis also awaits Senate floor action. 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.

    Additional information regarding this effort is available by contacting: Erik A. Williams, Executive Director, CT NORML, ewilliams@campaignswon.com, 860.805.3243.

    Vermont: Democrat Gov. Peter Shumlin last week signed legislation into law allowing state-licensed facilities to dispense marijuana to medically authorized patients. Each dispensary will be licensed by the state Department of Public Safety and would be permitted to serve up to 1,000 registered patients. The Department is in the process of developing rules to carry out the new law. To date, only the states of Colorado, Maine, and New Mexico have state-licensed medical marijuana facilities up and running. Regulators in New Jersey and Rhode Island have selected applicants to operate similar state-licensed dispensaries, but neither state has allowed those applicants to open their planned facilities. Additionally, permits for licensed medical marijuana businesses are expected to be issued soon Delaware and in the District of Columbia.

    California: Members of the state Assembly last week narrowly rejected AB 1017, which sought to reduce criminal penalties for marijuana cultivation from a felony to an alternative misdemeanor. “The state legislature has once again demonstrated its incompetence when it comes to dealing with prison crowding,” commented California NORML Director Dale Gieringer, which backed the bill. “With California under court order to reduce its prison population, it is irresponsible to maintain present penalties for non-violent drug offenses. It makes no sense to keep marijuana growing a felony, when assault, battery, and petty theft are all misdemeanors. Legislators have once again caved in to to the state’s law enforcement establishment, which has a vested professional interest in maximizing drug crime.”

    Separate legislation, SB 129, which seeks to make it illegal for employers to discriminate against qualified medical cannabis patients in the workplace, has been held over to 2012.

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