The Connecticut Senate passed a measure legalizing the use of medical marijuana, May 5. The vigorous debate, which began Friday, continued into Saturday morning.
Connecticut will become the 17th state to permit the substance’s usage for medicinal purposes once the bill goes into effect Oct. 1, according to the Hartford Courant.
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy lauded the passage of the bill, which has already cleared the House. In a statement, Malloy said he plans to sign the measure when it reaches his office.
“There are thousands of people in Connecticut who will likely benefit from this legislation as they struggle with debilitating and life-threatening illnesses. With them in mind, I want to commend the General Assembly for passing this bill,” Malloy’s statement reads.
Malloy noted the concerns of opponents of the measure and said that Connecticut will not follow in the footsteps of other states, “which essentially would legalize marijuana for anyone willing to find the right doctor and get the right prescription,” he stated. Malloy believes that “such efforts run counter to federal law.”
States such as Colorado and California have less restrictive legislation than Connecticut. “Under this proposal, however, the Department of Consumer Protection will be able to carefully regulate and monitor the medicinal use of this drug in order to avoid the problems encountered in some other states,” Malloy stated.
The bill requires a doctor to certify the patient has a debilitating medical condition, and a pharmacist with a special license to dispense the substance, according to the Courant. The patient would have to be diagnosed with cancer, glaucoma, HIV, AIDS, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, or epilepsy.
The measure “emphasizes regulation and oversight and controls,” Sen. Eric Coleman (D) told the Hartford Courant. “There are restrictions every step of the way,” added Sen. John Kissel (R), who backed the bill.
The measure passed 21–13 in the Senate. There were 48 amendments filed against the bill in the Senate but none of them passed, the Courant reported.
Sen. Toni Boucher (R), who opposes the bill and calls marijuana a “gateway drug,” argued that the bill would send a bad message to young people about the drug.
“There are reams of data that speak to the cost of the state due to the unhealthy effects of marijuana,” she was quoted as saying by the Courant. The substance, Boucher said, causes problems for users’ hearts, lungs, and increases depression, psychosis, and schizophrenia.
“It is an accepted fact that smoking cigarettes causes lung cancer,” she said, adding that smoking marijuana may have the same result. Boucher also noted that marijuana users are “more than twice as likely as other drivers to be involved in motor vehicle crashes.”
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