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Connecticut Lawmakers Take Up Medical Marijuan Bill

Jim Finnel

Fallen Cannabis Warrior & Ex News Moderator
HARTFORD, Conn. -- The House of Representatives was debating legislation Wednesday that would legalize the medical use of marijuana for patients with debilitating illnesses.

The debate was expected to last late into the afternoon, with one opponent filing about 50 amendments to the bill. It's unclear how many may ultimately be voted on.

Connecticut lawmakers have grappled with the issue for the last five years. Backers of the law say it's needed to legally protect people who try to obtain the illegal drug to help stem the draining effects of diseases such as cancer and multiple sclerosis.

Opponents say the proposal sends the wrong message about drugs to Connecticut's children and could exacerbate a patient's health problems. Some also claimed the bill still has many problems that haven't yet been addressed.

"How do you get it?" asked House Minority Leader Lawrence J. Cafero Jr., R-Norwalk, referring to the marijuana seeds needed to grow the maximum four plants allowed under the bill. "You've got to buy it. How do you buy it? As Rep. (Michael) Lawlor said, you've got to hit the streets folks _ nickel bag, dime bag. You gotta make a drug deal, baby."

The legislation allows a doctor to certify an adult patient's use of marijuana after determining he or she has a debilitating condition and could potentially benefit from marijuana. Patients and their primary caregivers would then register with the state's Department of Consumer Protection.

The patient and the primary caregiver would be limited to growing no more than four marijuana plants, each having a maximum height of four feet, in an indoor, security facility.

According to the Marijuana Policy Project, 11 states allow patients to use marijuana despite federal laws against it. A 12th state, Maryland, protects patients from jail but not arrest.

Connecticut already has a medical marijuana law, one of the first in the nation. Under the 1981 law, a doctor can prescribe the illegal drug to relieve nausea associated with chemotherapy and eye pressure from glaucoma.

But the law is unworkable because, under federal law, physicians who prescribes marijuana can be sent to prison and risk having their medical licenses revoked.

Rep. Penny Bacchiochi, R-Somers, who risked arrest more than 20 years ago to get marijuana for her husband, said she has heard from hundreds of residents who fear they will be arrested for buying marijuana for medical purposes. Her husband died of bone cancer.

"Today, we have the opportunity to give relief to Connecticut residents who are sick, who are dying, who are wasting away, who are losing their quality of life," she said. "And we can tell those Connecticut residents that the state of Connecticut no longer will prosecute you."

A similar bill passed in the Senate in 2005, but died after House leaders failed to take it up for consideration.

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Source: NewsDay.com
Contact: Long Island news, New York news, Entertainment and Sports
Copyright: 2007 Newsday Inc
Website: House takes up bill legalizing medical use of marijuana - Newsday.com
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