Medical Marijuana: Connecticut Bill Passes Legislature

A bill that would make Connecticut the 13th state to enact a medical marijuana law passed the state Senate last Friday by a 23-13 margin. It had already passed the state House by a similar 89-58 margin. The bill is now before Gov. Jodi Rell (R), who can sign it, veto it, or take no action, in which case it becomes law without her signature.

The margin of victory in the two chambers does not appear to be quite enough to override a gubernatorial veto, so proponents of the legislation are pressing hard to persuade Rell to either sign the bill or just do nothing. Rell has said she is "torn" by the bill.

"This bill will help alleviate the feelings of helplessness that families face when their loved ones suffer," said Lorenzo Jones, executive director of A Better Way Foundation, a state non-profit organization dedicated to drug law reform, which, along with the Drug Policy Alliance, has led the fight for medical marijuana in the Constitution State. "We've believed all along that compassion and fairness would bring this bill to final passage. Now we need the governor to sign the bill so families and patients can have some relief. We know she'll do the right thing."

"Allowing for the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes is the right thing to do for the State of Connecticut," said bill sponsor, Rep. Penny Bacchiochi, R-District 52. "This issue is not about legalizing drugs. It's about keeping those who seek compassionate care for treating crippling diseases out of jail."

The bill, HB 6715, would allow adult patients with debilitating medical conditions to get a doctor's certification that they could benefit from using marijuana. Certified patients and their caregivers would be registered with the state Department of Consumer Protection, after which they could grow up to four plants not to exceed four feet tall.

"I am just 32 years old and yet due to my medical condition I feel as if, at times, I am 92," said Joshua Warren, a patient in Wilton who suffers from chronic neurological Lyme disease. "I did not ask for this condition nor would I wish any of my pain and other symptoms on anyone else. I hope Gov. Rell will have compassion for me and for others and sign this bill."

Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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