Vermont legislature approves recreational marijuana use

A measure legalizing marijuana use in Vermont cleared the state’s legislature on Wednesday.

Vermont Gov. Phil Scott (R) has said the legislation is not “a priority for Vermont” and has not made a final decision as to whether he will sign it. The measure makes Vermont the ninth state to legalize recreational marijuana use among adults and the first to legalize through a legislative process. Other states have approved recreational marijuana use through ballot initiatives.

“Vermont lawmakers made history today,” said Matt Simon, the New England political director for the Marijuana Policy Project, a marijuana policy group. “The legislature has taken a crucial step toward ending the failed policy of marijuana prohibition.” Eight states and the District of Columbia have legalized the possession and use of marijuana, though each state has its own rules and regulations. For example, in Washington — one of the first states to legalize pot — only individuals using the drug for medical purposes can grow it, though any adult is allowed to possess and use it.

In Washington, D.C., marijuana can be used and “gifted,” but not bought, sold or exchanged for other goods or services.

Marijuana use is illegal according to federal policy, and President Trump’s opposition to legalization has created uncertainty for some states seeking to regulate the industry.

If signed by the governor, the Vermont measure would remove civil penalties for possessing one ounce of marijuana or less and would allow adults to keep up to two mature pot plants. It would also create a commission to develop a plan for taxing and regulating the drug.

Connecticut- New Dispensaries Coming Soon 

HARTFORD — Connecticut plans to allow up to three more medical marijuana dispensaries, targeting New Haven and Fairfield counties, where there are the most registered patients and the fewest licensed sellers.
The decision to add to the state’s six dispensaries comes nine months after the first medical marijuana sales by a fledgling industry in Connecticut in which both growers and dispensaries are still in a struggle to break even.

The Department of Consumer Protection announced Thursday that it would seek proposals for the new dispensaries because there has been “significant growth” in patient registration, especially this spring.  The medical marijuana program had 4,097 registered patients as of June 5, up from 3,600 in April and 1,683 in September, according to state officials.

“Back of the envelope, there should be 6,000 registered patients by the end of the year,” said Jonathan Harris, commissioner of consumer protection. “That’s even before the addition of the six new [medical] conditions in place through the regulatory process in the first quarter of next year.”
Harris said the number of new dispensaries would depend on trends in registration of both patients and physicians for the program. Acceptance by the medical community has been slow, mostly because research on medical marijuana is scant. Connecticut now has 222 doctors registered to refer patients to a dispensary for treatment. That’s still a small sliver of the 10,000 doctors practicing in the state.

Congress Hands A Mixed Bag to Marijuana Movement

The year-end spending bill gives momentum to the marijuana movement, plus a painful setback

For the marijuana legalization movement, 2014 ends the way it began: with legal changes that showcase the movement’s momentum alongside its problems.

Tucked into the 1,603-page year-end spending bill Congress released Tuesday night were a pair of provisions that affect proponents of cannabis reform. Together they form a metaphor for the politics of legal cannabis—an issue that made major bipartisan strides this year, but whose progress is hampered by a tangle of local, state and federal statutes that have sown confusion and produced contradictory justice.

First the good news for reformers: the proposed budget would prohibit law enforcement officials from using federal funds to prosecute patients or legal dispensaries in the 32 states, plus the District of Columbia, that passed some form of medical-marijuana legalization. The provision was crafted by a bipartisan group of representatives and passed the Republican-controlled House in May for the first time in seven tries. If passed into law, it would mark a milestone for the movement, restricting raids against dispensaries and inoculating patients from being punished for an activity that is legal where they live but in violation of federal law.

“The enactment of this legislation will mark the first time in decades that the federal government has curtailed its oppressive prohibition of marijuana, and has instead taken an approach to respect the many states that have permitted the use of medical marijuana to some degree,” Rep. Dana Rohrabacher said in a statement to TIME. The California Republican’s work on the issue reflects the strange coalition that has sprung up to support cannabis reform as the GOP’s libertarian wing gains steam and voters’ views evolve.

At the same time, the House chose to overrule Washington, D.C., on the issue. Last month voters in the District chose to liberalize its marijuana laws, passing an initiative that legalized the possession, consumption and cultivation of recreational marijuana. The move, which was supported by about 70% of the capital’s voters, paved the way for D.C. to follow in the footsteps of Colorado and Washington State by establishing a tax-and-regulatory structure for cannabis sales in 2015.

Source

MMJnews – Connecticut update

Just two months after the sales of marijuana for medical purposes began in Connecticut, the product is getting mixed reviews from patients who, although grateful for the relief, say the product is too weak and expensive. The biggest concern of patients and advocates is that the cannabis is only sold ground up rather than in bud form. 10 weeks after the product was available on the market, some patients who tried it said they’ll be returning to the black market. After checking with dispensaries around the state we found that the going price for an ounce ranged from $500 to $600.Meanwhile, a state physicians board plans to hold a public hearing next week to decide whether to add new medical conditions to the medical marijuana law.

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Courant.Com – Connecticut pharmacists meet to discuss medical marijuana program

By MATTHEW STURDEVANT
5:05 pm, June 25, 2014

SOUTHINGTON — Pharmacists preparing for the advent of Connecticut’s medical marijuana industry gathered Wednesday to talk about the clinical aspects of dispensing medicine* that has no federal approval nor the guidelines that go along with it.

The roughly 175 people in attendance also included doctors and some owners of state-designated businesses in medical marijuana — four producers to grow it, six dispensaries to sell it.

So far, about 2,000 patients are registered with the state to buy medical marijuana when it becomes available, said one speaker, John Gadea, a pharmacist and director of the Drug Control Division within the state Department of Consumer Protection, which regulates medical marijuana.

Just when medical marijuana will become available still isn’t exactly clear. Previously, officials had said the dispensaries could open sometime this summer. Some growers interviewed Wednesday, however, said their products would not be ready until later in the year.

The symposium touched on the many gray areas that face physicians and pharmacists when it comes to administering herbal medicine in a highly regulated pharmaceutical fashion. It also addressed some concerns about who should be using medical marijuana.

In Connecticut, a patient must have one of the 11 debilitating medical conditions — cancer, glaucoma, HIV or AIDS, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, damage to nervous tissue in the spinal cord or intractable spasticity, epilepsy, cachexia, wasting syndrome, Crohn’s disease or post-traumatic stress disorder.

From a consumer’s perspective, buying marijuana will be similar to visiting a doctor’s office, said Nick Tamborrino, a pharmacist who owns Bluepoint Wellness of CT, a Branford dispensary. He will keep regular business hours, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., on weekdays, and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays.

“So, patients make appointments,” Tamborrino said. “You’ll be seated in the waiting room. You’ll get called in by one of the pharmacists. You’ll get brought to a counseling room. That’s where we’ll go over a thorough medication history on you … make sure your treatment goals are met.”

Before even walking in the door of a dispensary, a patient will have to be certified by a doctor to use marijuana. Then, the patient must register with the state the dispensary where he agrees he will buy marijuana.

Featured speakers Wednesday came from the Center for Drug Discovery at Northeastern University; the Yale School of Medicine; the Canadian Consortium for the Investigation of Cannabinoids in Montreal; and other places.

Canada has had federally licensed cannabis producers for years who cultivate marijuana for patients. Mark A. Ware, executive director of the Canadian Consortium for the Investigation of Cannabinoids, has studied the dosage and administering of medical marijuana in Canada.

Pharmacists generally agree that marijuana has a lot of variability, so properly dosing medical marijuana for patients is an imprecise process.

In terms of dosage of the active ingredients TCH and CBD, Ware said, medical marijuana typically has 1 percent to 19 percent THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and 1 percent to 17 percent CBD (cannabidiol).

“In Connecticut, where you have standard producers and people who are regulated to do this, I think this goes a long way to ensuring that these patients are now getting product from quality-controlled sources,” Ware said.

Marijuana will be available in many forms, but Ware addressed dosing for marijuana that would be smoked.

An average joint is half of one gram, he said. Most studies suggest that the average medical user consumes about 2 grams each day, and about 80 percent of users consume between 1 and 3 grams daily, Ware said.

“It sounds like a lot. People say, ‘Four joints a day, that person’s stoned all day long,'” Ware said. But much of the THC is lost in the “combustion” process, and only some gets absorbed — 20 to 50 milligrams by a patient.

Clinicians should be watchful if a patient is using more than 5 grams per day, which is about 10 joints, Ware said.

* the writer chose to use the word drug , I replaced it with medicine.
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NYtimes- Patients in Connecticut lack safe access

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. — This state’s law approving the sale of marijuana for medical purposes has been on the books for two years, but the drug is still not available.

Among the challenges has been finding dispensing locations acceptable to Connecticut towns and cities. Fairfield and West Haven let applicants for licenses to operate dispensaries know they would not pass zoning muster; other municipalities, including Madison, New Canaan and Westport, have imposed moratoriums of as long as a year while their zoning rules are reviewed; and this month the Bridgeport zoning board turned down a licensee.

The law, signed by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, a Democrat, in May 2012, requires that a pharmacist dispense the drug, and limits the list of qualifying ailments. Four manufacturers and six dispensaries have so far been licensed.

Yet even with the restrictions, those who are trying to open the facilities are running into opposition from residents who are concerned that a dispensary nearby would reduce the stigma for children to try marijuana, invite black markets or lower property values.

Twenty-one states and the District of Columbia have passed laws permitting medical marijuana. Only Connecticut mandates an on-site pharmacist.

In the patchwork of marijuana laws emerging across the country, Connecticut is somewhere in the middle: not as adventurous as Colorado and Washington, which have decriminalized marijuana for recreational use for people over 21, or California, where residents can buy medical marijuana for common conditions such as sleeplessness, loss of appetite and anxiety. (Anyone from other states can too, using a hotel room as a residence.) There is no official count of marijuana dispensaries in California, but Los Angeles alone is believed to have over 500. Critics say California’s porous rules, set forth in a 1996 law, have essentially legalized marijuana as a recreational drug.

Connecticut acted before neighboring New York, where Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, a Democrat and longtime opponent of legalizing medical marijuana, said in January that he would approve an experimental program allowing up to 20 hospitals to prescribe the drug.

Proponents of medical marijuana have also faced a struggle in New Jersey. The state enacted its Compassionate Care Act in 2010, when Jon S. Corzine, a Democrat, was governor. It offers immunity from prosecution to people using marijuana for a range of ailments and makes a provision for six “alternative treatment centers” to dispense it. Three have opened. The current governor, Chris Christie, a Republican, is opposed to the law and has limited edible marijuana to sick children.

The first Connecticut dispensaries are not scheduled to open until summer, but almost 2,000 patients certified by doctors as eligible to benefit from medical marijuana have registered with the State Department of Consumer Protection by supplying proof of identity and a photograph, and paying a $100 fee.

Some, like Angela Fiorini, a former 911 police dispatcher who is undergoing chemotherapy for follicular lymphoma, are smoking marijuana they buy from street-corner dealers with immunity from prosecution because legislators felt it was cruel to make genuinely sick people wait for the dispensaries.

Opponents have slowed the drug’s rollout. Last month, Bridgeport’s zoning board turned down a location in a former library building chosen by a licensed dispenser, D & B Wellness. It would have been the most convenient dispensary for Fairfield County, but neighbors objected to the site’s proximity to a low-income apartment house.

Minnie Simmons, whose accounting office is near the proposed Bridgeport site, said she had worried that the presence of security guards and cameras would let people know that it was a marijuana dispensary and possibly encourage casual marijuana smokers to induce patients to sell them the drug, creating a black market. Children, she said, might also conclude that if some people can obtain marijuana legally, “it’s not such a bad thing.”

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