Conn. marijuana bill proposes strict regulations – NECN

Posted on: May 4th, 2012 by admin No Comments

Since California passed the country’s first medical marijuana law in 1996, states with such measures have struggled with disorganization and clashes with the federal government, which considers the drug illegal and of no medicinal value. Advocates say the Connecticut proposal goes further than any other state in regulating the drug.

“Everything from California back is trying to get away from chaos,” said Allen St. Pierre, the executive director of the National Organization to Reform Marijuana Laws.

The legislation has already been passed by the House of Representatives, and Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has said he supports the concept.

Under the legislation, the drug would be sold in multiple forms at dispensaries, which must have a licensed pharmacist on staff and would be marketed only to patients who are authorized to use it. The measure also outlines specific diseases that would be treated by the drug, establishes a registration system for patients and caregivers and restricts farming of the drug to growers with permits.

“I think experience has shown, that having statewide structures in place make it easier for everyone to understand what the rules really are,” said Dr. Alan Shackelford, who serves on a state advisory work group for medical marijuana in Colorado and helped to advise Connecticut lawmakers on their proposal.

Opponents in Connecticut have distributed a letter to state senators from U.S. Attorney David Fein, who wrote that the Department of Justice would not go after the seriously ill patients who use the illegal drug, but it would still enforce federal laws against those who manufacture and distribute it.

Sixteen states and the District of Columbia have laws authorizing use of medical marijuana. In addition to federal efforts to shut down dispensaries in California and, to a lesser extent, Colorado, advocates say problems with regulation have arisen in states where the drug was legalized through ballot initiatives and the system was implemented without regulations in place. Additionally, some states don’t allow medical marijuana dispensaries and patients are left to grow their own.

Several states have been taking steps lately to strengthen regulations.

Colorado, which passed a medical marijuana initiative in 2000, imposed tight regulation and state government control over dispensaries in 2010. New Jersey and Delaware also have passed laws in recent years to strictly regulate medical marijuana.

In California, state Sen. Mark Leno, a San Francisco Democrat, said he is working to enact legislation that would further clarify that care providers be exempt from prosecution for providing the drug to patients.

“I’m hopeful that our attempts to further refine and define how to provide safe and affordable access with a physician’s recommendation, here in California, operates so the federal government will shift its priorities to more pressing needs of the American people,” Leno said.

But Leno said he is uncertain how states’ attempts to improve regulation will succeed in reducing federal scrutiny. He points to small patient-owned and patient-run dispensaries in his district that have been shut down by the federal government.

Allison Price, a DOJ spokeswoman, said in a statement the department “is focusing its limited resources on significant drug traffickers, not seriously ill individuals who are in compliance with applicable state medical marijuana statues.”

Read more here: Conn. marijuana bill proposes strict regulations – NECN

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