This page contains answers to some of the most popular questions related to medical marijuana laws and use in the state of Connecticut. If you do not find an answer to your question, contact us.
Connecticut Q & A
Public Act 12-55, An Act Concerning the Palliative Use of Marijuana, passed by the Connecticut General Assembly and signed into law by Governor Dannell Malloy on May 31, 2012, requires the Department of Consumer Protection to issue temporary patient registration certificates for the palliative use of marijuana starting on October 1, 2012.
Thanks to this considerate and humane action on the part of the Connecticut Legislature and Governor, thousands of seriously ill patients will benefit from having safe, reliable and legal access to a medicine that helps them cope with their suffering. There are many patients whose lives could be improved through the use of marijuana, yet they suffer instead out of fear that they might get arrested or because they lack access to the medicine they need. This inequity will now be erased in Connecticut.
To qualify, a patient needs to be diagnosed by a physician as having one of the following debilitating medical conditions that is specifically identified in the law: Cancer, glaucoma, HIV, AIDS, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, damage to the nervous tissue of the spinal cord with objective neurological indication of intractable spasticity, epilepsy, cachexia, wasting syndrome, Crohn’s disease or post-traumatic stress disorder. Patients also have to be at least 18 years of age and be a resident of Connecticut. Prison inmates, or others under the supervision of the Department of Corrections, will not qualify, regardless of their medical condition.
An eight-member Board of Physicians will be established by the Department of Consumer Protection, comprising physicians or surgeons who are board-certified in one of the following specialties: Neurology, pain medicine, pain management, medical oncology, psychiatry, infectious disease, family medicine or gynecology. The board will recommend to the Department of Consumer Protection additional medical conditions, medical treatments, or diseases to be added to the list of medical conditions that qualify for the palliative use of marijuana. To be added as a qualifying condition, such recommendations will have to be approved by the Department and implemented by the adoption of a regulation.
Physicians will not “prescribe” marijuana in the same way other medications are prescribed to patients. Rather, the Department of Consumer Protection will develop a form that a physician may use to issue a written certification that a particular patient has been diagnosed with a disease that makes the patient eligible for the palliative use of marijuana and, based on a medically reasonable assessment of the patient’s medical history and medical condition, the potential benefits to the patient from the palliative use of marijuana would likely outweigh the health risks. This assessment will have to be made in the course of a bona fide physician-patient relationship. In addition, the physician will have to explain the potential risks and benefits of palliative marijuana use to the patient or their legal guardian.
Neither Kind Clinics nor Medbox is engaged in the sale, distribution, or cultivation of any products dispensed through its machines. We are simply a consulting firm and technology retailer. We are helping individuals and groups obtain licenses for dispensaries and cultivation facilities in newly approved medical marijuana states and give them a competitive advantage in the application process and beyond through the use of our patented technology.
Only producers licensed by the Department of Consumer Protection will be authorized under the bill to cultivate marijuana. The Department of Consumer Protection will establish regulations setting out the qualifications for licensed producers. Among other things, any person seeking to be licensed as a producer will have to demonstrate they have the financial capacity to build and operate a secure indoor facility that could grow pharmaceutical-grade marijuana and the ability to maintain adequate controls to prevent the diversion, theft or loss of the marijuana in their facility.
In polls taken prior to the Legislative vote, a majority of Connecticut residents and many medical professionals indicated they support the medical use of marijuana In fact, the Connecticut Legislature approved the sale of medical marijuana in 2007, but it was vetoed by Governor Rell. Unfortunately, due to the lack of a consistent opinion between many states and the federal government, patients have been denied this medicine. Public Act 12-55 gives patients access to this medicine and the peace of mind they deserve.
Our dispensaries are tightly controlled. The system only dispenses medicine to patients that are in the database, have a valid (unexpired) physician’s statement on file, and can verify their identity via a fingerprint scan taken at the machine.
Our machines are armored for extra protection. Called Medbox Dispensing Machines, they are housed in State-approved dispensary locations and will have a clerk physically on the premises during all hours of operation.
Our newly designed machine allows patients the choice of up to 50 different varieties of medicine via touch-screen user interface. Patients are given prepaid purchase cards and their accounts are automatically debited every time the clinic employee accesses the patient’s medicine from the machine. The patient verifies his or her authorization to purchase, and the clerk – after scanning the patient’s fingerprint – interacts with the Medbox to obtain the order.
The operator can track inventory and revenue generated by the dispensary via a customized, computer-based application, and the system can be customized to suit Connecticut’s legal requirements. This helps ensure transparency and verifies clinic compliance with their local and state laws relative to medicinal cannabis. If marijuana is to be taken seriously as a medicine, a standard method of dispensing must be in place, similar to that found in the pharmacy industry. Our patented Medbox™ technology and software allows patients and marijuana dispensaries to work in concert with state and local authorities in order to promote overall integrity and legitimacy.
On October 19, 2009, the U.S. Deputy Attorney General issued a U.S. Department of Justice memorandum to “All United States Attorneys” providing clarification and guidance to federal prosecutors in the states that have enacted laws authorizing the medical use of marijuana. The document is intended solely as “a guide to the exercise of investigative and prosecutorial discretion and as guidance on resource allocation and federal priorities.” The memorandum does not change any laws. Sale of cannabis remains illegal under federal law. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s position, that marijuana has no accepted value in the treatment of any disease in the United States, has also remained the same.
Under the U.S. Constitution, individual states retain the right to write and approve legislation they feel benefits their state and their citizens. When this legislation differs from federal legislation, our democracy allows for debate and dialog in an interest to listen to its citizens, to protect all citizens’ rights, and to “agree to disagree.” As this debate continues, or until it’s been reviewed by the U.S. Supreme Court, states have chosen to go ahead and do what they believe is in the best interests of patients who need this medicine to help fight or cope with chronic pain and illness.
The federal government has announced publicly that it will not pursue patients or providers, just illegal drug traffickers. States like Connecticut (and Arizona, for example), who adopt a strict system of oversight, will not be targeted for federal intervention. This was also echoed by the federal government several months ago. While the federal government does not condone this industry, they simply tolerate it as long as the operators of these non-profits can demonstrate that they are not willfully profiteering. None of the more than 100 operators nationwide that use Medbox technology have ever been targeted by federal law enforcement.
No. While operating details are still being reviewed by DCP, it’s likely that patients in the State will be entered into a networked database to which all dispensaries will be linked. To purchase marijuana at any dispensary, a patient would have to provide a personalized ID card from the state. By linking sales to the patient’s ID card, it will be possible to enforce the provision prohibiting patients from acquiring more than the amount mandated by the Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection, which is overseeing distribution and licensing.
There is nothing in past experience to suggest that marijuana use would increase among teens when this initiative goes into effect. When you look at before-and-after data, research indicates that changes in teen-use patterns in states that have passed medical marijuana laws have largely been consistent with national trends, which is to say that teen use has consistently fallen since the mid-nineties. In fact, all but one state that has passed a medical marijuana law has seen a decrease in lifetime teen marijuana use since that law was passed.
Connecticut Public Act 12-55 does not authorize patients to operate a car, aircraft, motorcycle or motorboat under the influence of marijuana. Under the Connecticut legislation, patients would not be considered to be under the influence of marijuana just for having the drug in their system, as long as the concentration was deemed insufficient to impair them. If a driver was pulled over, police would verify his or her patient status by running the driver’s identification through an electronic database managed by the Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection, which is overseeing the use of medical marijuana in Connecticut.
Although there is no testing device to immediately detect whether a person is high on marijuana, police are experienced at determining whether a person is likely impaired by alcohol or other drugs. Police can conduct field-sobriety tests specific to drug use and can require more comprehensive testing that involves drawing blood. If the blood tests positive for marijuana, police can obtain probable cause to investigate further if they choose.
Medbox offers cashless exchanges and equipment that stores medicine in low doses. While criminals may target dispensaries just as they target pharmacies, banks, ATM machines, grocery marts and gas stations, actual experience indicates that no such connection exists. For example, in Denver and Colorado Springs, Colorado, where there are a large number of dispensaries, law-enforcement officials have concluded that the dispensaries have not resulted in a level of crime distinguishable from other businesses.
Medbox technology is featured at over 100 clinics nationwide and in Canada. To date, none have ever been the victim of a robbery. The system is very secure and the presence of extra cash and product is severely limited, making dispensaries less attractive targets for criminals.
No. The initiative, for good reason, was written to ensure that patient-employees would not be discriminated against simply because they use marijuana for their illness during non-work hours. If an employee is under the influence of marijuana at work – just as in the case of situations involving alcohol or other drugs – an employer would not be prohibited from disciplining that employee.
No. The law prohibits ingesting marijuana in a bus, a school bus or any moving vehicle; in the workplace; on any school grounds or any public or private school, dormitory, college or university property; in any public place; or in the presence of anyone under 18. It also prohibits any use of palliative marijuana that endangers the health or well-being of another person, other than the patient or primary caregiver.
What kind of review process and background checks will applicants for Connecticut dispensing licenses have to face?
The Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection is currently reviewing programs in other states to ensure compliance with legislative mandates aimed at preventing abuse, avoiding conflicts of interest and ensuring that licensees for dispensaries or cultivation have appropriate credentials, backgrounds and the business means (plans, finances, etc.) to formally carry out the required duties and responsibilities. More information on this vetting process will be available over the coming months.
The Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection is currently reviewing programs in other states to determine the most effective, fair and efficient process for reviewing and choosing qualified licensees. More information on selection criteria, the number of licenses that will be granted, decision makers and process will be available over the coming months.