Medical Marijuana Legalized In Connecticut

By Amir Khan on June 4, 2012 12:30 PM EDT

Marijuana
The distinctive five-leaf structure of a marijuana plant is seen as it grows in a medical marijuana center in Denver (Photo: Reuters)

Connecticut became the 17th state to legalize medical marijuana on Friday after Governor Dannel Malloy signed legislation into law that allows doctors to prescribe their adult patients marijuana for medical purposes, the governor's office said on Friday.

"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, according to Reuters. "With careful regulation and safeguards, this law will allow a doctor and a patient to decide what is in that patient's best interest."

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The Connecticut law is different than other states that have legalized prescription pot, such as California, Colorado, Vermont and Washington D.C., according to the governor's office. Medical marijuana is abused in other states, but the Connecticut law seeks to avoid those problems.

"We don't want Connecticut to follow the path pursued by some other states, which essentially would legalize marijuana for anyone willing to find the right doctor and get the right prescription," Governor Malloy said in a statement. "In my opinion, such efforts run counter to federal law. Under this law, 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."

In order to qualify for medical marijuana in Connecticut, patients and doctors need to register with the Department of Consumer Protection. The doctor must also prove that the patient has a legitimate need for the drug, including cancer, glaucoma, HIV, AIDS, Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis or epilepsy.

In addition, patients will only be able to get marijuana from a pharmacist, not from dispensary, such as in California.

"Medical marijuana can only be sold legally by registered pharmacists who have been approved by the Commissioner of the Department of Consumer Protection, and those pharmacists can only sell marijuana that is produced by special licensed growers," according to the governor's office. "Approved marijuana will be packaged in the same way as prescription drugs according to dosage."

In order to prevent doctors from frivolously prescribing marijuana, doctors will be monitored by a prescription monitoring program that will "identify those who demonstrate a pattern of excessive recommendation of medical marijuana," the governor's office said.

Despite numerous states having legalized medical marijuana, it is still illegal by federal law and patients can be prosecuted for possessing marijuana despite having a documented medical need.

In the United States, marijuana is listed as a Schedule I drug by the Food and Drug Administration and the Drug Enforcement Administration, which means it "has a high potential for abuse, has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States, and has a lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision."

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