Connecticut medical marijuana law comes into effect

On October 1st, 1937, the Marihuana Tax Act came into effect - the first national prohibition of cannabis. 75 years later, Connecticut today became the seventeenth state in the Union, along with the District of Columbia, to provide some access to the medical benefits of marijuana. The Palliative Use of Marijuana Act, CT Public Act 12-55, now allows patients to begin obtaining temporary registration status even as the rules of the registration process are being developed. And while several places that have passed medical cannabis laws in the past few years have yet to implement their programs (such as NJ, DE, and DC), patients in Connecticut can obtain temporary registration status before the official registration process is decided through administrative rule making.

There is a three step process in order to obtain a temporary registration certificate from the CT Dept. of Consumer Protection, which is administering the state's medical cannabis program. Patients will not be able to legally purchase medical cannabis until the dispensaries open for business, but the temporary registration certificate will protect patients who obtain a recommendation from their physician and use medical cannabis prior to dispensaries opening. However, patients in Connecticut should realize that the law does not specify the maximum possession limit, and instead, the Dept. of Consumer Protection will specify the maximum "one-month supply" on each individually issued temporary registration certificate. This rule will almost certainly preclude home cultivation. You can find it on Section 15, page 17, of the current regulations (PDF).

Connecticut's forethought for including temporary registration protection is a sensible approach for legislatures to address public health needs that occur between the passage of a law and the careful implementation regulations that provide for safe access to medicine. While allowing patients and caregivers to cultivate medicine at home would better guarantee safe access, this approach marks an improvement to other "closed loop" models. Patients in Connecticut who currently need to use medical cannabis should speak with their physicians about obtaining a recommendation for medical cannabis therapy.

Mike Liszewski is ASA's Policy Director.