Connecticut works toward implementation of medical marijuana law
Now that the Department of Consumer Protection’s medical marijuana rules are final, the state has begun accepting applications for medical marijuana producers and dispensary facilities to serve patients in the state. The department’s website for the medical marijuana program, which also includes applications and other forms, can be found here.
Under the state’s law, patients may not grow their own medical marijuana, so businesses willing to step in and provide patients with medicine are a must. While patients have been able to obtain a temporary registration since October 1, 2012, so far there has been no safe, legal avenue for them to obtain medical marijuana. By accepting applications for cultivators and dispensary facilities, the state has reached an important milestone for patients.
Unfortunately, the department’s rules have made it very costly to operate in the Constitution State, particularly for small, family-run businesses. For instance, the department requires a $25,000 application fee from producers, plus an additional $75,000 if they are accepted. Operators must also have a $2 million bond or insurance policy payable to the state if the producer falls behind on state requirements. In addition, producers must have all marijuana tested, even if there is no testing facility available in the state. Finally, the department is only required to issue a very limited number of dispensary and producer licenses, calling into question whether the state program will be able to meet the need of patients in Connecticut. Nonetheless, the rules are a step in the right direction for patients.
Connecticut decriminalizes possession of marijuana
Possession of a half-ounce or less of marijuana is a civil violation in Connecticut, punishable by a fine of up to $150. It is not a jailable offense. Subsequent offenses are subject to increased fines of $200-$500, and upon a third violation, offenders are referred to a drug awareness program. Most importantly, though, those accused of being in possession are not arrested or saddled with a criminal record. In addition to the fine, anyone under 21 who is found in possession of less than a half-ounce of marijuana faces a 60-day suspension of his or her driver's license.
Although Connecticut has improved its marijuana laws in recent years, penalties still exist for adults in possession of a substance that is less harmful than alcohol. Data reported to the FBI by state law enforcement shows that in 2011, 88% of all marijuana-related arrests were for possession. Please ask your legislators to take marijuana off the criminal market, to legalize it for adults, and to tax and regulate it similarly to alcohol.
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