Medical marijuana still burns at the state Capitol, with a few conservatives joining the party.
In the span of a week, a bill allowing seriously ill patients to possess marijuana passed two legislative committees- Public Health and Finance. But even with these approvals, a maverick political dynamic makes it nearly impossible to read whether the idea will attract enough votes to make it to the governor’s desk.Take the Finance tally, where the bill passed 31-14 today. Many of the usual suspects in the progressive caucus voted for it, but some unlikely allies joined them, like state Rep. Richard Belden (R-Shelton), a conservative who made his bones in the legislature decades ago. Not only Belden, but other Republicans like state Sens. Tony Guglielmo of Stafford Springs, Tom Herlihy of right-wing, suburban Simsbury, Andrew Roraback of rural Goshen, state Reps. Anne Ruwet of Torrington and John Piscopo of Thomaston all voted yes.On the flip side, highly progressive state Rep. David McCluskey (D-West Hartford) opposed the bill, along with Felipe Reinoso of Bridgeport and state Sen. Tom Gaffey of Meriden. Likewise, in the Public Health Committee last week, state Sen. Andrea Stillman (D-Waterford) vowed to vote ‘no’ on the floor of the Senate, while state Sen. Gayle Slossberg (D-Milford) opposed the bill for “personal” reasons, upon which she would not elaborate. The Slossberg vote is significant if only because the lobbyists pushing medical marijuana, Betty Gallo and Associates, gave Slossberg significant logistical support in her November victory over incumbent Win Smith. The medical marijuana bill will hit the Senate first and with so much party crossing, a final tally is far from certain. The bill passed a House floor vote last year before dying on a procedural tie-up.