In a year when state lawmakers are looking for all the pain relief they can get, Gov. Dannel Malloy’s medical marijuana bill had relatively little trouble making it through the General Assembly’s Judiciary Committee Tuesday.
Opponents tried to apply some legislative herbicide to the bill in the form of an amendment to require medical marijuana to be sold only through pharmacies and to have all medical marijuana in Connecticut grown at the University of Connecticut. Either proposal would probably have killed the measure, since pharmacists and UConn are both adamantly fearful of getting on the wrong side of federal anti-marijuana laws, but the amendment was voted down 27-10.
Critics of the bill trotted out the same arguments they’ve been using for years: that it would “send the wrong message” to young people; that it conflicts with federal law; that it would turn patients seeking pain relief into criminals.
State Rep. Al Adinolfi, a Cheshire Republican, offered a new twist to the anti-medical marijuana argument. He told a story about a friend of his family who had skin cancer and decided to smoke pot to relieve his pain. “He kept on smoking marijuana,” said Adinolfi, “and marijuana kept him going.”
Adinolfi’s tale then took a turn toward the macabre, as he described how the man’s “ear fell off” because the marijuana allegedly made him feel so good that he failed to get proper treatment for his cancer. “Because he failed to go for treatment... he died,” claimed Adinolfi. “The marijuana helped him die.”
It wasn’t clear exactly what impact Adinolfi’s interesting story had on the committee, but it could have contributed to the lopsided vote in favor of the medical marijuana bill.
The medical pot legislation is listed as being part of the governor’s budget package, so it may need to go through one of the General Assembly’s budget committees before it comes up for votes in the state House and Senate. The rest of Malloy's budget plan, which aims to solve Connecticut's nasty $3.5 billion budget crisis, appears to be far more unpopular than his marijuana bills.
Legislative odds-makers are betting this bill will end up on Malloy’s desk for him to sign, largely because an identical measure passed the General Assembly two years ago. That legislation was vetoed by Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell.
This time around, Malloy proposed both this bill and another to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana and promised to sign both if passed by lawmakers.
The bill would allow a patient with a doctor’s prescription for marijuana to grow up to four pot plants indoors for their personal use.
Law enforcement officials acknowledge that no one is being arrested or prosecuted now in Connecticut for the medical use of marijuana, but the bill’s supporters say legalizing its use would ease the minds of patients and their caregivers.
By Gregory B. Hladky
Tuesday, April 05, 2011 3:35pm
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