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Nicastro Unhappy With Marijuana Bill


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BRISTOL - A proposal to legalize the medical use of marijuana in Connecticut - a bill now before state lawmakers - has state Rep. Frank Nicastro upset.

The Bristol Democrat, who represents the 79th District, said he would argue this week against the bill that proposes legal, "palliative" use of the drug.

"I have some real strong concerns," Nicastro said.

Nicastro says the bill encourages people to break the law by growing and using marijuana.

The proposed bill would allow a patient or caregiver - assuming they are at least 18 years old and have a doctor's permission - to grow up to four marijuana plants, up to 4 feet high in a secure, indoor place.

The doctor's statement must say that the patient has a debilitating illness and that the benefits of the use of marijuana would outweigh any detriment to the patient.

Patients or caregivers must also register with the state Department of Consumer Protection and pay a $25 fee to begin growing the plants, Nicastro said.

The bill does not allow purchasing marijuana for medical use, only growing it, he said.

The drug cannot be prescribed by a doctor or dispensed by a pharmacist, said Nicastro, because it is illegal.

Under the bill, once it is grown, the plant can then be used medically, but it is up to the grower to dispense with any unused portion, Nicastro said, adding that there is no one checking to make sure a grower is only cultivating four plants and not letting them get higher than 4 feet.

Besides the question of what to do with unused marijuana plants, Nicastro sees another potential problem.

"How are we going to protect the plants from being stolen?" he asked.
The bill also does not address how to obtain the seeds to grow the plants, Nicastro said.

"What we're saying is go out and purchase the seeds illegally," said Nicastro. "Here we are telling people to go out and break the law."

That's especially disturbing to Nicastro, a former Bristol mayor and current city councilor, who spent many years as the city's truant officer. He said he attended or presided at more than 100 DARE graduations. Nicastro said the message this bill sends to children, "truly troubles" me.

Nicastro said the intent of the bill is to try to provide something that relieves people who are in pain from cancer or multiple sclerosis.

"I have all the compassion in the world for anybody that's in pain," said Nicastro, but he said this isn't the way to ease the pain.

"Marijuana is an illegal substance by federal law," the legislator said.

Making a medical exception under state law wouldn't change that, Nicastro said, and state residents who used or grew marijuana for medical purposes wouldn't be exempt from federal prosecution, even if Connecticut law allowed it.

Passing this bill into law would put vulnerable, sick residents at risk, said Nicastro, because it would not shield marijuana growers and users from federal prosecution.

It might also put federal funding for Connecticut at risk, he added.
The bill, if passed - and that is a possibility - would take effect Oct. 1.
"It has very strong backing," Nicastro said.

Newshawk: CoZmO - 420Magazine.com
Source: The Bristol Press (CT)
Author: Jackie Majerus
Contact: editor@bristolpress.com
Copyright: 2007 The Bristol Press
Website: The Bristol Press - Nicastro unhappy with marijuana bill
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