The Regulations Review Committee postponed action Tuesday on changing marijuana from a Schedule I to a Schedule II drug as it prepares to legalize the drug for medical purposes.
Approving the regulation is one step toward legalization, but some members of the committee felt they didn’t have enough information to take a vote so it was postponed until next month.
Rep. Vincent Candelora, R-North Branford, said he’s concerned about approving a regulation that would put Connecticut at odds with federal laws and regulations regarding marijuana.
“I’m still not convinced we are federally pre-empted,” Candelora said.
Last year, in the middle of the legislative debate on the issue U.S. Attorney David Fein wrote Sens. Michael McLachlan and Toni Boucher to tell them that “Congress placed marijuana in Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) and, as such, growing, distributing, and possessing marijuana in any capacity, other than as part of a federally authorized research program, is a violation of federal law.”
But the Department of Consumer Protection tried to reassure Candelora and the committee that by approving this “ministerial” act, they were in compliance.
“It is a common occurrence to have our schedule fall outside the federal schedule,” Gary Berner, of the Department of Consumer Protection, told the committee. From bath salts to salvia and synthetic marijuana, there are drugs Connecticut considers Schedule I drugs that haven’t been fully adopted yet by the federal government.
“There continue to be inconsistencies,” Berner said.
As far as changing the status of marijuana in Connecticut, “We feel and the Attorney General has certified that there is no conflict with federal law or regulation,” Berner said.
In addition to changing the classification of marijuana, the Department of Consumer Protection is getting ready to open up public comment on regulations for the licensing, growing, and distribution of the drug.
While that system is being developed, patients with a doctor’s certification can apply for a temporary certificate from the Consumer Protection Department to avoid being fined for possession of small amounts of cannabis.
Department of Consumer Protection Commissioner William Rubenstein said about 400 people have applied for the certification and 280 have completed the process and received their cards. The process to register for a card opened up on Oct. 1.
Candelora said he’s still concerned that while the change in classification of the drug may seem like a small matter, it’s the beginning of the process that will allow for marijuana to be cultivated and grown in the state.
“We should have all our questions answered before we vote,” Candelora said.
The committee rejected the matter “without prejudice” by a voice vote, and planned to include it on their agenda next month.