Policy Recommendations Connecticut

2019-2020 Improvements and Recommendations for Connecticut

Connecticut's program began with only 11 qualifying conditions but has expanded its list to a total of 27 conditions; six of which were added in 2019-2020. This list now includes chronic pain, an essential inclusion to combat opioid abuse.9 State officials expect the addition to double patient enrollment in the program in the coming years.10 Meanwhile Connecticut patients maintain the ability to demand new qualifying conditions via a petition to the state's regulatory authority. While the need for expansion continues there are now 17 dispensaries serving patients across the Constitution State.11

While much of the state's legislative efforts over the past two years have focused on adult-use legislation, ASA advises Connecticut state lawmakers and regulators to return focus to improving the state's medical program. Patient access remains challenging, and ASA recommends that state and local leaders collaborate to reduce local licensing barriers that are preventing expansion of medical cannabis retail and the functionality of medical access overall in the state. Medical cannabis is as important to the treatment of cannabis patients as traditional pharmaceutical products are to treating the conditions for which they are effective and appropriate. As such cannabis patients require the same ease of access to medical cannabis retail outlets that pharmaceutical patients do to pharmacies, and state and local elected leaders should work to facilitate access parity for both facility types.

One policy improvement worth considering to bolster patient access is the licensing of delivery from regulated storefronts and depots, which is also common among pharmacies. While the state declared cannabis businesses essential during the COVID pandemic, authorized telehealth visits for patient registration renewals, and allowed for curbside pickup during the pandemic, ASA encourages Connecticut to consider organizing a pilot program for delivery during this time that could be expanded in 2021 if successful. The state should also consider allowing home cultivation for patients as a means to expand access and reduce out-of-pocket costs for patients. Two other areas that ASA recommends focusing improvements on are consumer safety standards and staff training.