Connecticut Bill to Expand Medical Marijuana Access to Children Advances

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The Connecticut General Assembly has voted to expand medical marijuana access to patients younger than 18 years.

The Connecticut General Assembly has voted to expand medical marijuana access to patients younger than 18 years.

This proposed legislation now awaits final review from Governor Dannel P. Malloy, who has expressed support and intent to sign it into law.

The Connecticut Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is backing the bill, which aims to make “revisions to the statutes concerning the palliative use of marijuana.”

While the legislation would expand medical marijuana access to those younger than 18 years, it would prohibit the dispensing of smokable, inhalable, or vaporizable forms of cannabis to those in that age group, limiting access to forms such as oil or edibles. The bill would also require that “a board-certified pediatrician appointed in consultation” with the Connecticut Chapter of the AAP serves on the state’s Board of Physicians established by the Commissioner for Consumer Protection.

By managing cannabis as a pharmaceutical product, Connecticut’s model encourages proper testing, standardization, and regulation. By incorporating a pharmacist, the model ensures patient consultations, complete medication therapy management, and individualized care plans and treatment goals.

However, of the 24 states that currently allow the use of medical cannabis, Connecticut is the only one that doesn’t already include patients younger than 18 years in its laws. For some Connecticut families, the bill’s passage will eliminate the need to travel to other states for their children to receive treatment.

Currently, Connecticut permits access to the drug for non-incarcerated Connecticut residents older than 18 years with 1 of 17 approved “debilitating medical conditions,” including cancer, glaucoma, multiple sclerosis, and epilepsy. More recently added conditions include sickle cell disease, post-laminectomy syndrome with chronic radiculopathy, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, and complex regional pain syndrome.

Six state-licensed dispensaries already operate in Connecticut, with 3 more approved and planning to open this year. All are supplied by 4 licensed in-state growers. As of May 8, 2016, the 6 facilities service 9967 registered patients.

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