"Today is a day of hope, compassion and dignity," says Connecticut NORML
Members of the Connecticut Senate on Saturday, May 5, voted 21 to 13 in favor of HB 5389, the Palliative Use of Marijuana Act. Their vote follows similar approval by the General Assembly. Saturday's vote clears the way for Democrat Gov. Dannel Malloy, a supporter of the Act, to sign the bill into law.
Connecticut will become the 17th state since 1996 to allow for the limited legalization of medicinal cannabis. It will be the fourth New England state to do so, joining Maine, Rhode Island, and Vermont.
"Today is a day of hope, compassion and dignity and I thank all of the legislators who worked hard on this legislation and who voted to pass this bill," said Erik Williams, Executive Director of Connecticut NORML, who assisted in drafting the bill and generated over 36,000 phone calls and e-mails to lawmakers in support of the measure. "I am so happy for all the patients who will have another medicinal option to discuss with their doctor and for all of those currently suffering with debilitating conditions who will no longer suffer the indignity of being sick and a criminal."
Williams added: "Connecticut had an opportunity to be a leader in America on this issue. Our strategy and dedication has obviously paid off."
The Palliative Use of Marijuana Act mandates the state to license a limited number of producers to cultivate cannabis for therapeutic purposes. Patients require a recommendation from their doctor to become a state-registered 'qualifying patient.' Patients will obtain cannabis via licensed pharmacists, who must acquire permits to dispense the substance from the state Department of Consumer Protection.
The majority of the new law, once signed by the Governor, will take effect on October 1, 2012. The Department of Consumer Protection will begin enacting a detailed regulatory framework for the law upon its passage.
Last year, Connecticut NORML took a lead role in the passage of separate statewide legislation that decriminalized the possession of marijuana by adults from a criminal misdemeanor (punishable by one year in jail and a $1,000 fine) to a non-criminal infraction, punishable by a fine, no arrest or jail time, and no criminal record. Since then, the state has seen a dramatic reduction in the total number of marijuana arrests.
Said Williams: "When I formed Connecticut NORML 18 months ago, I wrote a five-year plan with the goal to decriminalize possession and legalize medical marijuana. I would have never dreamed we could do it as quickly as we did."
For more information, please contact Allen St. Pierre, NORML Executive Director, at (202) 483-5500, or Erik Williams, Executive Director of Connecticut NORML, at: firstname.lastname@example.org.