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CT may legalize marijuana for spinal cord victims

Victims of spinal cord injury, injury and other conditions may be approved to obtain and use medical marijuana in the state of Connecticut. Last week, the Connecticut House of Representatives approved the bill to legalize marijuana. The bill is still awaiting action in the Senate and must be approved by the governor before it will become law.

Many victims of spinal cord injury and their families in New Haven may be wondering how this law works and how it will apply. The following is some basic information for spinal cord injury patients who are curious about medical marijuana use:

  • Who is eligible? Patients need to be certified by a physician as having a debilitating medical condition, including damage to the nervous tissue of the spinal cord. Patients must be at least 18 years of age. An eight-member board will also assess other conditions where patients could benefit from marijuana use.
  • How would patients obtain medically approved marijuana? Marijuana would only be dispensed by pharmacists specifically licensed to distribute to patients who are certified for use.
  • What would a physician have to do to prescribe marijuana? The physician would make a medical assessment, given the condition of the patient, and explain risks and benefits of palliative marijuana. This information can also be provided by a caregiver if patient lacks consent.

If the bill passes in the Senate, medical marijuana could be grown by licensed cultivators and distributed throughout the state. Physicians cannot make a profit from licensing and producers would have to pay a fee for the license.

While the bill is one step closer to passing, it is not clear whether there will be hold up or delay. In Connecticut and nationwide, the debate continues over the benefits and the risks of legalizing medical marijuana.

Source: The Hartford Courant, "Medical Marijuana: How Would the Law Work?" Nancy Schoeffler, May 1, 2012.

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