On Friday, Connecticut became the 17th state in America to legalize the use of marijuana for medical purposes. Governor Dannel Malloy signed the groundbreaking legislation that will allow licensed physicians to certify and prescribe medical marijuana for adult patients will qualifying medical conditions.
“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. ”With careful regulation and safeguards, this law will allow a doctor and a patient to decide what is in that patient’s best interest,” he said.
Despite coming out strongly in favor of state’s rights to legalize and monitor medical marijuana when he was on the campaign trail, the Obama Administration has since waffled in his support of the plant’s medical use. In a Rolling Stone interview early this year, the President was quoted as saying “he can’t nullify congressional law.” Fortunately, states have forged ahead in their quest to provide ill citizens with a natural medication that can greatly improve their quality of life.
“By giving patients safe, legal access to medical marijuana, Connecticut joins over a third of the United States in recognizing the plant’s economic and medical value,” said Brad Burge, Director of Communications for the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), a non-profit pharmaceutical development company. “The new law also reminds us how far state and federal attitudes toward medical marijuana have diverged. The Obama administration continues to fight medical marijuana, and the states just don’t agree.” MAPS has been supporting a Massachusetts professor who is suing the DEA in federal court for upholding a federal blockade on medical marijuana research. The organization hopes to get marijuana approved as a prescription medicine and facilitate an FDA-approved study of marijuana for veterans with PTSD, pending the outcome of the lawsuit.
Under the Connecticut bill, patients and their caregivers must register with the Department of Consumer Protection. In addition, a doctor must certify there is a medical need for marijuana to be dispensed, including such debilitating conditions as cancer, glaucoma, HIV, AIDS, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis or epilepsy. This is the same or very similar to the way medical marijuana is prescribed in other states.
What sets the Connecticut law apart, however, is that patients will only be able to obtain medical marijuana from pharmacists who are certified to dispense it. The Connecticut law also only allows for the licensing of at least three but not more than 10 marijuana producers statewide. Officials hope this model will reduce instances of abuse and black market dealing that have occurred in states that allow patients or appointed caretakers to grow their own.
Despite these restrictions, Burge says it’s a step in the right direction for patients and more states are likely to follow suit. “The federal government, through a decades-long blockade on medical marijuana research, has succeeded in preventing marijuana from becoming a federally-regulated prescription medicine. In the meantime, getting patients access to the medicine they need will depend on the continued success of state-based medical marijuana policy reform.”
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