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Becoming a Medical Marijuana Patient in Connecticut

David Bowman

New Member
Connecticut's Act Concerning the Palliative Use of Marijuana provides patients and caregivers protection from arrest when using or handling medical cannabis in accordance with the law. Protections only apply to registered patients and caregivers. Patients and caregivers may purchase medical cannabis from dispensaries that are licensed by the state. Dispensaries will not be open for business until at least sometime in 2013, however, patients may still register with Department of Consumer Protection (DCP).

What's Legal
Patients and caregivers may purchase and possess medical cannabis from state licensed dispensaries; however, neither patients nor caregivers are allowed to grow their own medicine. The possession amounts are not set by HB 5389, rather, the DCP will determine through regulations the possession amount based on ensuring an "uninterrupted availability for a period of one month." The possession amounts set by the DCP may vary by qualifying condition. While rules and regulations are put in place, the Department of Consumer Protection is issuing temporary registrations. During the temporary registration period, the maximum allowable monthly amount of medicine patients may possess is 2.5 ounces.

Eligible Conditions
  • Cancer
  • Glaucoma
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Epilepsy
  • Cachexia
  • Wasting Syndrome
  • Crohn's Disease
  • Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Damage to the nervous tissue of the spinal cord with objective neurological indication of intractable spasticity
  • Any medical condition medical treatment or disease approved by the Department of Consumer Protection
Application Process
Your physician begins the process of registering you in the Connecticut Medical Marijuana Program by certifying for the Department of Consumer Protection that you have a debilitating medical condition listed above. That certification takes place online with the Department and includes providing your email address and phone number or contact by the Department. Patients must register with the DCP and provide proof of residency in the state, a photo ID, a passport-style photo and a $25 registration fee. If your physician indicates that you need the assistance of a caregiver, you may designate one when submitting your registration application.

Becominga a Legal Patient or Caregiver
Under Connecticut law, registered patients and caregivers are shielded from arrest and prosecution so long as they conform to the rules of the state's medical marijuana program. If a patient or caregiver is prosecuted on state charges, the patient or caregiver is entitled to present an affirmative defense that the cannabis was for medical purpose.

Finding a Doctor for a Recommendation
First and foremost, be forthright with your current doctor. Connecticut law specifies that your certifying doctor must be licensed to practice medicine in Connecticut and have a bona-fide physician-patient relationship with you that includes a full assessment of your medical history and current condition.

Specifically ask your doctor to help you obtain a medical cannabis recommendation. If you are already medicating with cannabis on your own, tell your doctor specifically what on the Connecticut list of qualifying conditions you treat with cannabis and how it helps you. Honestly describe the amount of cannabis you use, how often, and by what delivery method.

There is nothing wrong with using medical cannabis or discussing it with your doctor. A federal court has ruled that, under the First Amendment, doctors may not be punished by the DEA for recommending medical cannabis. But if you have a qualifying condition and your doctor does not issue medical cannabis recommendations, you may need to visit a medical cannabis specialist.

Medical Cannabis Specialists
There are a number of Connecticut physicians and clinics available for medical cannabis consultations. Before consulting a medical cannabis specialist, patients should already have medical records of diagnosis and treatment of a qualifying condition under Connecticut law. Be aware that:
  • Not all doctors are qualified to make recommendations.
  • The doctor will want to see your medical records.
  • It can cost more than $100 to see a medical cannabis specialist.
  • Paying the money does not guarantee that you will get a recommendation.
If you have more questions on how to become a legal patient, contact ASA: Medical Marijuana - Americans for Safe Access.

Obtaining a Registry Identification Card
The process of registering as a qualified patient in Connecticut begins with your physician. Once your doctor has provided certification to the Department of Consumer Protection that you have a qualifying debilitating medical condition that may benefit from medical cannabis, the DCP will contact you to complete your registration.

You will be asked to submit to the department:
  • Proof of Identity
  • Proof of Connecticut residency
  • Current passport size photograph
  • $25 registration fee (checks/money orders should be made payable to "Treasurer, State of CT")
Your physician can also indicate if you need a caregiver to assist you with administering or obtaining your medicine. If so, you must register a qualified caregiver for the department to issue you a registration certificate.

Both qualifying patients and caregivers must be at least 18 years of age. Caregivers cannot have been convicted of a drug crime.

Qualified Doctor
Your physician can only recommend medical marijuana after completing a full assessment of your medical history and current condition as part of a bona-fide physician-patient relationship. Your physician must be licensed to practice in Connecticut. Other licensed health professionals such as chiropractors, physician assistants and nurse practitioners cannot sign the documentation.

Connecticut registry cards are good for one year. You will need to submit a new recommendation from your physician with your renewal application.

Registry Card Changes or Loss
If there has been a change in your name, address, telephone number, physician, or primary caregiver, or if you have lost your registry card, contact the Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection Medical Marijuana Program at (860)706-5361 within five (5) days.

Becoming a Legal Caregiver
Connecticut's medical cannabis laws protect patients and their designated caregivers. Designated caregivers are allowed to possess and obtain cannabis for the patient in their care. The caregiver may not use cannabis without being a registered patient nor provide it to anyone but their patient.

To become a registered caregiver, the qualifying patient's physician must indicate that the patient requires the assistance of a caregiver and the qualifying patient must designate you as that caregiver on the patient registration application. To do so, the patient must provide your name, email address and phone number. The DCP will contact you and ask you to provide:
  • Proof of Identity
  • Current passport size photograph
  • $25 registration fee
Registered caregivers must be at least 18 years of age, cannot have been convicted of crimes related to controlled substances, and may serve as caregiver for only one qualifying patient. Caregivers may care of more than one qualifying patient if the caregiver and each qualifying patient have a parental, guardianship, conservatorship or sibling relationship.

Obtaining Cannabis for Qualified Patients
Medical cannabis patients in Connecticut are to obtain their cannabis from registered dispensaries, which are to have medicine provided by licensed producers. Connecticut's medical cannabis act establishes basic guidelines for the licensing and operation of dispensaries and producers, but the final regulations and application process is the responsibility of the Department of Consumer Protection. Until those are established, registered patients and caregivers may possess up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis but have no authorized way to obtain it.

Source: ASA: Becoming a Patient in Connecticut
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