Compassionate Use Bill Passes Legislature by Wide Margins, Heads to Governor
HARTFORD, CT--Connecticut is on the verge of becoming the thirteenth state to allow the use of medical marijuana. The Connecticut State Senate passed HB 6715, the Compassionate Use Act late last Friday. The bill passed by a 23-13 margin after clearing the House of Representatives by an 89-58 margin weeks earlier. The bill now goes to Gov. M. Jodi Rell for her signature. If Rell neither signs nor vetoes the bill, it will automatically become law.
Thousands of Connecticut residents live with crippling pain, are suffering with cancer and HIV/AIDS, or other debilitating ailments. HB 6715 allows Connecticut residents with certain debilitating medical conditions to cultivate and use marijuana for medical purposes when recommended by a practicing physician.
"This bill will help alleviate the feelings of helplessness that families face when their loved ones suffer," said Lorenzo Jones, executive director of A Better Way Foundation. "We've believed all along that compassion and fairness would bring this bill to final passage. Now we need the Governor to sign the bill so families and patients can have some relief. We know she'll do the right thing."
By passing HB 6715, the Legislature ended a five-year Legislative battle to win medical marijuana in a state that has overwhelming public support for the issue. A 2004 University of Connecticut poll found that 84 percent of Connecticut residents support the medical use of marijuana. Dozens of community organizations, including the CT Nurses Association, support medical marijuana.
"Allowing for the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes is the right thing to do for the State of Connecticut," said bill sponsor, Rep. Penny Bacchiochi, R-District 52. "This issue is not about legalizing drugs. It's about keeping those who seek compassionate care for treating crippling diseases out of jail."
Currently, there are 12 states with medical marijuana laws. New Mexico passed its medical marijuana bill in March. Last month, the Rhode Island legislature voted to make their state law permanent, and last week Vermont's legislature voted to expand their medical marijuana law. Other medical marijuana bills are currently under consideration in New Jersey, New York and Alabama.
"I am just 32 years old and yet due to my medical condition I feel as if, at times, I am 92," said Joshua Warren, a patient in Wilton, CT, who suffers from chronic neurological Lyme disease. "I did not ask for this condition nor would I wish any of my pain and other symptoms on anyone else. I hope Gov. Rell will have compassion for me and for others and signs this bill."