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Connecticut and federal medical marijuana legislation


A Connecticut medical marijuana proposal gained acceptance by state lawmakers in 2012, but according to a report in the New York Times, the state's population has been slow to accept neighborhood dispensaries. By May 2014, long after legislative approval, only four medical marijuana manufacturers and half a dozen dispensaries were licensed.

Under the state's unique law, medical marijuana must be dispensed by pharmacists. Technically, cannabis could be offered through regular pharmacies. However, local governments with highly restrictive zoning laws have made it hard for any dispensaries to operate.

An amendment to a December 2014 congressional spending bill eased many of the worries states had about conflicting federal rules. Reuters reported legislation, approved by the president, ended funding for federal law enforcement against legal medical marijuana programs, cannabidiol or CBD oil sales and industrial hemp production in a total of 34 states.

The savings to American taxpayers is considerable. Marijuana advocates, Americans for Safe Access, issued a 2013 report stating the U.S. government spent over $200,000 daily – about $80 million annually – on medical marijuana enforcement.

By May 2014, Connecticut had certified 2,000 residents as medical marijuana users. Applicants were certified with physician's approval for qualifying health problems like cancer, Parkinson's disease, epilepsy and post-traumatic stress disorder. Under past drug enforcement policies, patients were open to prosecution for drug offenses that weren't state crimes.

The federal legislation does not remove marijuana from the list of controlled dangerous substances or forgive marijuana offenses in states without legal medical cannabis laws. However, the congressional law does eliminate arrests and punishments for medicinal marijuana possession and other related drug crimes in Connecticut.

It's unclear how the federal legislation will affect Windham residents' views about medical marijuana. Local lawmakers won't have to worry about federal agents raiding medical cannabis dispensaries. Federal drug charges against Willimantic County defendants qualified to use or sell medical marijuana must be reconsidered.

Source: The Huffington Post, "Congress Passes Historic Medical Marijuana Protections In Spending Bill" Matt Ferner, Dec. 14, 2014