The number of patients in the state of Connecticut receiving medical marijuana treatment has grown from 2,000 a few years ago to 11,000, according to Department of Consumer Protection Deputy Commissioner Michelle Seagull.
Connecticut legalized medical marijuana for adults in 2012. There are nine dispensaries in the state serving the more than 11,000 registered patients.
Seagull reported those numbers at a recent seminar entitled “Navigating Connecticut’s Medical Marijuana Regulations,’’ which was given at the Connecticut Bar Association’s Annual Legal Conference.
Seagull told the lawyers’ association that the state’s 4-year-old medical marijuana legislation is a “model’’ that other states have tried to mirror.
She said Connecticut’s law “enables truly sick patients to get help from palliative marijuana. But, there are lots of requirements, rules of the road that need to be abided by,’’ Seagull said, before marijuana can be prescribed for patients.
“We treat this for what it is intended to be,’’ she said, “as medicine for diseases such as cancer or Muscular Dystrophy.
“You can’t have marijuana prescribed,’’ Seagull said, “for things like anxiety or pain.’’
In the past legislative session, a bill that would give children under the age of 18 access to non-smokeable medical marijuana became law.
The new law gives minors with severe epilepsy and terminal illnesses access to marijuana after the approval of two doctors.
April Arrasate, founder and chief operating officer of Curaleaf, one of four licensed producers of medical cannabis in the state of Connecticut, said Connecticut’s medical marijuana requirements are the “toughest in the nation.’’
Arrasate, founder and chair of the Connecticut Bar Association’s Medical Marijuana Committee, added: “There is so much misinformation out there about medical marijuana.’’
The best way to combat the misinformation, Arrasate told the lawyers’ group, “is to simply relay facts, including that physicians do not prescribe marijuana in the same way other medications are prescribed to patients.”
Rather, she said, physicians may certify, that a particular patient has been diagnosed with a disease that makes the patient eligible for the palliative use of marijuana and, based on a medically reasonable assessment of the patient’s medical history and medical condition, the potential benefits to the patient from the palliative use of marijuana would likely outweigh the health risks.
Additionally, Arrasate added, the maximum allowable monthly amount is 2.5 ounces unless a physician indicates a lesser amount is appropriate.
Arrasate that she always keeps her mother in mind when she speaks about medical marijuana.
“I lost my mother to breast cancer five years ago,’’ said Arrasate. She went to describe her mother as “cannabis naive,’’ but she (Arrasate) knows that her mother would have benefitted from medical marijuana treatment, if she was alive today.