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The Likelihood of Medicinal Marijuana in Connecticut Gets...

The Likelihood of Medicinal Marijuana in Connecticut Gets Higher

The Likelihood of Medicinal Marijuana in Connecticut Gets Higher North Cascades National Park, flickr

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Medical marijuana bill passes through a key committee.

Legislation that would allow Connecticut adults to legally use marijuana for medical purposes continued Friday to move its way through the legislature, easily clearing a key committee.

The General Assembly's Finance Revenue and Bonding Committee passed the proposal 36-14. Under the legislation, people with serious illnesses could obtain the drug with a Doctor's prescription.

Morgan Fox, a spokesman for Marijuana Policy Project, says that this bill will allow the state to focus on more important issues.

"If we weren't wasting so much money trying to put people in jail for using marijuana, and battling the violent criminal gangs that are funded by the illicit marijuana trade, than we would be able to put so much more money into education and teaching children about the potential dangers of drug use and drug abuse," he said.

Not everyone is on board with the proposal. Senator Toni Boucher, R-Wilton, tried to refine the bill with a number of amendments, but all her efforts failed. One of Boucher's main concerns is that the bill will negatively influence children.

"I think that we can agree that Connecticut students already have so many barriers to success," she stated during the committee meeting.

Fox argues that legalizing medicinal marijuana will positively impact kids by turning them away from the drug.

"In the majority of states that have the

available data, that have patented medical marijuana laws, teen use has gone down in those states. It takes away a lot of the glorification of it when you see somebody that is in a wheelchair or suffering from chemotherapy using it just to feel normal," he said.

Sixteen states and the District of Columbia have legalized the drug for medical purposes. Some of those states include places near Connecticut, including Rhode Island, Vermont, and Maine. Paul Armentano is the Deputy Director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, and he says if these northeastern states can successfully pass the legislation, why can't Connecticut?

"What happened when these states legalized the medical use of marijuana? Did the sky fall? All Connecticut lawmakers have to do is look just beyond their borders to see the real world enactment of medical marijuana to see if problems have risen. They haven't," Armentano said in a phone interview. 

The legislation's biggest hurdle going forward is the calendar. To become a law the bill needs to push through before the legislature breaks for recess. The next step for the proposal is the House of Representatives.