Connecticut: Governor’s Veto Means Arrest, Jail For State’s Medi-Pot Patients

Thursday, 21 June 2007

Hartford, CT: Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell vetoed legislation this week that would have enacted statewide legal protections for authorized patients who use medical cannabis under their doctor’s supervision.

House Bill 6715 sought to allow state-registered patients to possess and cultivate small quantities of cannabis for therapeutic purposes. House lawmakers had approved the bill by an 89 to 58 margin. State senators had voted 23-13 in favor of the proposal. The majority votes are just shy of the number necessary to override the Governor’s veto.

If enacted, Connecticut would have become the thirteenth state since 1996 to implement statewide legislation protecting patients from prosecution for their use of medical cannabis.

In her veto message Gov. Rell, a cancer survivor, said that passing the bill would send "the wrong message" to young people. Rell further claimed that there’s no proof of cannabis' effectiveness and that "legal alternatives" to pot are available to patients by prescription. The Governor also claimed that the bill would potentially place patients at risk of federal prosecution because cannabis remains illegal under federal law.

NORML Senior Policy Analyst Paul Armentano called the Governor’s comments cynical and insincere. "Governor Rell’s supposed concern for patients’ well-being rings hollow," he said. "The Governor is well aware that federal prosecutions for state-authorized medical marijuana patients are exceedingly rare, even in state’s like California where it is estimated that several hundred thousand patients are currently using cannabis with their doctor’s approval. Ironically, Gov. Rell’s veto assures that the state and local police can keep arresting Connecticut patients so the Feds won't have to."

Under state law, Gov. Rell had the option of allowing HB 6715 to become law without her signature.

According to a 2004 University of Connecticut poll, 83 percent of state voters support the use of medical cannabis when authorized by a physician.

For more information, please contact Paul Armentano, NORML Senior Policy Analyst, at: paul@norml.org or visit NORML’s online "Take Action" center at: http://capwiz.com/norml2/issues/alert/?alertid=9314826. An in depth discussion of Gov. Rell’s veto will be broadcast on next Tuesday’s edition of the NORML Daily Audio Stash at: http://www.normlaudiostash.com.

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