Medical Marijuana Program Continues To Grow, As Debate About Legalization Continues
HARTFORD, CT - While the move to legalize recreational marijuana in Connecticut has hit a speed bump, the medical pot program continues to grow, now topping 18,000 patients.
The number of medical marijuana patients in the state is at 18,071 as of May 5, according to the latest figures from the Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection.
There are 4,453 patients in Hartford County; 4,241 in New Haven County; 3,678 in Fairfield County; 1,943 in New London County; 1,114 in Litchfield County; 1,111 in Middlesex County; 872 in Tolland County; and 659 in Windham County.
There are 669 physicians registered to certify medical marijuana patients and nine dispensaries in the state where medical marijuana is available. The dispensaries are located in Hartford, Branford, Waterbury, Bethel, South Windsor, Uncasville, Bristol, and two in Milford.
Additionally, there are four medical marijuana producers in the state.
There are 22 debilitating conditions for adults and six for patients under the age of 18 that the State Board of Physicians have certified for medical marijuana use.
“We’re incredibly proud of the Connecticut medical marijuana program’s thoughtful expansion,” Acting Consumer Protection Commissioner Michelle H. Seagull said.
“Our program is the first pharmaceutical model in the country - and always had made great health care the number one priority. This program supports more than 18,000 patients in Connecticut with severe debilitating conditions, and allows them to lead healthier lives,” Seagull added.
While the medical pot program is alive and well in Connecticut, efforts to legalize recreational pot in the current General Assembly session have so far fizzled.
Several bills proposed to legalize recreational pot never made it out of committee, though proponents still hold out hope it may get attached to other legislation or even the budget with a month left to go in the legislative session.
Advocates say the time has come for Connecticut to join the eight other states and Washington, D.C. in legalizing recreational use of cannabis for adults over 21 years of age.
Connecticut’s Office of Fiscal Analysis has determined that the Nutmeg state could bring in $45.4 million to $104.6 million a year in revenue if the legislature legalizes cannabis in the same way as Massachusetts or Colorado.
Nearly two-thirds of Connecticut voters, or 63 percent, support making possession of small amounts of cannabis legal for adults, according to a March 2015 Quinnipiac University poll.
Asked about the chances of recreational pot legislation being revived in the remaining weeks of the legislative session during a press briefing on Wednesday House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz, D-Berlin, wouldn’t rule it out.
Stating Connecticut has a “budget crisis” Aresimowicz said: “I have repeatedly said that while it has a vote problem in the House I can understand why people want it to remain on the table.
“That’s a lot of money that we’re talking about,” Aresimowicz said. In the past the speaker has also said he wouldn’t want to legalize recreational marijuana solely for budget reasons.
Those against legalization have presented a strong case, as groups representing police chiefs, medical and health experts, school officials and some school students, said legalizing pot was the wrong thing to do - and that money was the wrong reason to back legalization.
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has repeatedly stated that legalizing recreational use “isn’t a priority” for him, though he added he would follow the progress of proposed legislation.
The concept, which has had two public hearings, could still be raised as an amendment to another piece of legislation, including the state budget.