The Public Health Committee voted 22-4 Tuesday to pass a measure that would legalize the use of medicinal marijuana for people with debilitating medical conditions.
During the meeting, the members of the committee who voted against the measure expressed concerns about health consequences of using the substance and the lack of a distribution system for it, according to the meeting minutes.
Sen. Jason Welch, R-Bristol, said that if marijuana was a traditional pharmaceutical drug with television commercials, it would have a long list of side effects like addiction, permanent memory loss, distorted perception, depression, psychosis and even severe illnesses like schizophrenia, according to the minutes.
But Rep. Chris Lyddy, D-Newtown, said many of the pharmaceutical drugs on the market do have those side effects. He said the state does not ban those drugs, it monitors them for safe usage, the minutes said.
Rep. Timothy LeGeyt, R-Canton Center, said the committee was struggling with the social nature of the drug not the chemical nature, which doesn’t come close to the effects of some prescription drugs, the minutes said.
Rep. John Hetherington, R-New Canaan, said there is no way to make a secure distribution system for medicinal marijuana. He said Connecticut risks the wrath of federal authorities if it allows the use of marijuana in a way not consistent with federal law.
The committee’s co-chair Rep. Betsy Ritter acknowledged the bill needed some fine tuning before it reaches the floor. She said during a recent conversation with her 91-year-old mother, she asked her to consider passing the measure because it would help many people she knows find relief towards the end of their lives, the minutes said.
Former Gov. M. Jodi Rell vetoed similar legislation in 2007 after it passed both chambers of the legislature. This year Gov. Dannel P. Malloy made it one of his legislative priorities and has said he will sign legislation if it reaches his desk.
The measure passed the Judiciary Committee last month. It will now move on to the Senate calendar.