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CT Legalizes Medicinal Marijuana

CT Legalizes Medicinal Marijuana

Late last week, lawmakers in Connecticut passed legislation to legalize medicinal marijuana, making Connecticut the 17th state in the country to allow the use of medicinal marijuana (Democratic Gov. Daniel Malloy has indicated he will sign the bill into law). To qualify for use, patients will need certification from a physician that they are suffering from a debilitating medical condition, such as cancer, HIV/AIDS, glaucoma, multiple sclerosis or epilepsy. Only pharmacists that are licensed to dispense marijuana will be able to honor prescriptions.

The supporters of medicinal marijuana in Connecticut include physicians, patients and families, all of whom have seen and felt the devastating and painful consequences of serious illnesses. The emotion wrapped up in this issue is found from California to Connecticut and every state in between.

Connecticut Gov. Daniel Malloy

This debate has been raging in Connecticut for nearly a decade. In 2003, a similar measure failed on the floor of the state House of Representatives. In 2004, it passed the House but did not become law. In 2007, legislation legalizing medicinal marijuana passed both chambers and was ultimately vetoed by Gov. Rell.

While medicinal marijuana laws and regulation have become a state matter, marijuana is still classified as an illegal substance by the federal government, and possession, use or cultivation is a criminal offense. Even though President Obama has stated his intention to allow states to handle this matter and not target dispensaries, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) continues to close dispensaries in California and seize marijuana grown for medicinal purposes.

These actions are stripping away one of the last bits of hope to which patients suffering from painful illnesses can cling. Some Members of Congress recently introduced a bipartisan amendment to the Justice Department Appropriations bill to deny the DEA funding for raids against legally operating dispensaries.  Debate on the appropriations bill, H.R. 5326, was postponed at midnight last night; it will likely be brought to the floor again this week.

According to Jewish tradition, a physician is obligated to heal the sick (Maimonides commentary on Mishnah Nedarim 4:4). In 2003, the URJ passed a resolution expressing support for federal, state and local laws that would “allow the medicinal use of marijuana” as a method of relief from painful and serious illnesses.

Keep checking RACblog for updates on the implementation of medical marijuana legislation in Connecticut and in other communities across the country.

Photo courtesy of Jessica Hill/Associated Press

Published: 5/10/2012

Categories: Social Justice
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