Connecticut Becomes 17th Medical Marijuana State in the Face of Ongoing Federal Intimidation

Hartford, CT -- Patient advocates applauded Governor Dannel Malloy today for signing the country's 17th state medical marijuana law. The Connecticut legislature passed HB 5389 on May 4th, despite ongoing Justice Department intimidation in medical marijuana states. The passage of Connecticut's medical marijuana law comes as the Obama Administration is engaged in an unprecedented level of attack against patients and their providers. Paramilitary-style raids on dispensaries and threats of criminal prosecution and asset forfeiture by U.S. Attorneys are among the methods used to obstruct implementation of state medical marijuana laws.

"We are encouraged that state officials are standing up to federal intimidation and moving ahead with the passage of important public health laws," said Steph Sherer, Executive Director of Americans for Safe Access, which worked with local advocates to help pass the Connecticut law. "We hope other states follow Connecticut's lead in passing medical marijuana laws so that patients are not left unprotected and vulnerable to law enforcement actions."

While advocates welcome the protections provided in the bill, there are a number of problems they've also cited, including a prohibition on patients cultivating their own medical marijuana. In states such as New Jersey and Delaware, where the law has relied entirely on centralized medical marijuana distribution, federal intimidation has prolonged implementation and prevented patients from being able to safely and legally obtain their medication.

Another contentious issue for advocates regarding the new Connecticut law is an overly restrictive list of qualifying medical conditions. For example, the qualification list excludes chronic pain, which is the condition for which the vast majority of patients in the U.S. use medical marijuana. However, there is a provision of the law that allows for the review and acceptance of additional medical conditions.

In addition to obstacles erected by the federal government, HB 5389 saw resistance from certain Connecticut lawmakers. For instance, during deliberations State Senator Toni Boucher (R-Bethel) introduced dozens of restrictive amendments. Although a handful of amendments made it to the floor for a vote, including limiting the law to terminal patients, all of them were rejected.

Connecticut follows the States of Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington, as well as Washington, D.C., in passing medical marijuana laws.

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