Connecticut works toward implementation of medical marijuana law
Following Gov. Dannel Malloy’s signature making HB 5389 law, the state’s Department of Consumer Protection issued proposed rules and then heard public comments on those proposed rules on April 22. Under HB 5389, state-registered patients or their caregivers may obtain marijuana from dispensaries, which in turn obtain marijuana from licensed producers.
Under the new law, patients must be 18 or older, and either they or a designated caregiver will be able to obtain a one-month supply from a dispensary facility. The bulk of the new law went into effect on October 1, 2012, including a provision to allow patients to obtain a temporary registration to possess marijuana while the department implements the remainder of the act.
As they say, the devil is in the details, and here the details are the rules under consideration by the Department of Consumer Protection. Under the proposed rules, the system is very costly, particularly for small, family-run businesses. For producers, the department would require an application fee of $25,000, an additional $75,000 if accepted, plus a $2 million bond payable to the state if the producer falls behind on quotas. 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. MPP encouraged the Department to re-think these rules in advance of the hearing in April.
The Department hopes to have its regulations in place by the end of June.
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. Please ask your legislators to take marijuana off the criminal market and tax and regulate it similarly to alcohol.
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