Judiciary Committee

JOINT FAVORABLE REPORT

Bill No.:

HB-5389

Title:

AN ACT CONCERNING THE PALLIATIVE USE OF MARIJUANA.

Vote Date:

3/21/12

Vote Action:

PH Date:

3/7/2012

File No.:

SPONSORS OF BILL:

Judiciary Committee

REASONS FOR BILL:

To allow a qualifying patient to alleviate symptoms of a debilitating medical condition by using medical marijuana legally. Rather, than the current system of obtaining questionable drugs illegally.

RESPONSE FROM ADMINISTRATION/AGENCY:

Department of Consumer Protection, Commissioner William Rubenstein: Supports this bill. This bill allows for the use, acquisition, possession, cultivation, and distribution of marijuana under well-defined circumstances and provides for a prominent role by the Department of Consumer Protection to ensure proper registration of patients and physicians as well as to provide for necessary enforcement of provisions of this proposal. The bill requires patients and physicians who elect to certify the palliative use of marijuana to register with the Department and pay a fee that provides funding for the administration of this act. Furthermore, the bill includes a well-defined system of approved marijuana producers and dispensaries that must be licensed by the Department. Also, the proposal allows law enforcement agencies to contact the Department to verify whether a patient or physician is properly registered. The Department is technologically equipped to handle the administration of this bill. We welcome its passage.

Department of Correction, Leo C. Arnone: Supports this bill. The Department of Correction likes that inmates are excluded from the definition of a “qualifying patient”. Suggestion-They would like to limit the definition of “qualifying patient” by excluding an inmate who has been released to parole or to transitional supervision. They suggest amending the exclusion language in lines 55-57 to read, “qualifying patient” does not include an inmate as defined in section 18-84 of the general statutes.

NATURE AND SOURCES OF SUPPORT:

Sen. Martin M. Looney, STET: Our citizens who suffer from debilitating medical conditions deserve compassion rather than arrest, fines, court costs, property forfeiture, incarceration, probation, criminal records and an atmosphere of fear and worry. Ideally, I believe that research should be done to compare the effects of marijuana relative to other available treatment; this approach, which might lead to a national policy shift. However, this is not likely in the near term and our citizens suffering from these diseases need our help now. I am pleased there is language in the bill that allows for legal production, this would create a level of quality control that should allay some of the fears that people with debilitating conditions have about the use of medical marijuana.

Rep. Penny Bacchiochi, State of Connecticut House of Representatives: Strongly supports this bill that would offer comfort for patients. She wants protection for people whose only option is marijuana use but live in fear when trying to obtain it. This bill provides a very defined regulatory framework by limiting the use of marijuana to private and secure areas, limiting the number of caregivers to one, defining the role of the DCP as the regulatory agency, protecting doctors who provide certifications to patients for medical marijuana use, adding a Class A misdemeanor for any person who makes a fraudulent representation to law enforcement relating to the written certification, allowing for the collection of fees so the implementation of this bill has no fiscal impact, addresses the distribution system with licensed pharmacists and providing that health insurance will not cover its use. Suggestion-Although the bill clearly defines what illnesses a doctor can recommend marijuana for, Rep. Bacchiochi suggests adding people who are receiving services under hospice to this list.

Alex Krupp: Suggestion-Would like to expand the affirmative defense provision in the bill to include patients who have received a valid medical marijuana recommendation to assert the affirmative defense at trial.

Barry William: Until 2006, I was a lobbyist at the Connecticut General Assembly. I stopped lobbying because of the effects of my Parkinson's disease. Since my diagnosis in 2004, my world has grown smaller and smaller. It takes me an hour to get dressed every morning trying to figure out a new way to pull my pants on, and I can't wear shirts with buttons. When my symptoms started getting really bad, the doctor told me a little secret. If I smoked marijuana, there was a good chance I could feel symptom free for a while. I tried it. The doctor was right and for the first time in a long time I felt normal. Though it might not seem much to you but, to me, it means the world just to feel normal without the symptoms of the disease. I ask you to please give me -- and others like me -- the chance to feel disease free and normal. I ask you to please pass HB 5389.

Brian Calabrese: I suffer from diagnosed third stage chronic Lyme disease which creates arthritis in my neck. I have 10-15% disability in my neck. Further, it has caused joint pain, joint popping, joint stiffness, very frequent vomiting, and muscle spasms. I cannot function properly without smoking marijuana. If I don't smoke marijuana, I can't eat any food without vomiting it back up. I believe the only reason I have not done any serious harm to myself is because of the beneficial aspects of smoking marijuana. I have not moved onto any harder drugs.

Daniel Malo, Free the Leaf: Suggestions-

-The definition title and definition “Debilitating medical condition” be amended to read: “Evaluated medical condition” meaning any medical condition or medical treatment approved by a licensed medical doctor.

-The definition “Qualifying patient” to be amended to read: A resident of Connecticut who has been diagnosed by a physician as having a medical condition.

-The definition “Doctor Certification” to be amended to read: A statement signed and dated by the qualifying patient's physician stating that, in such physician's professional opinion, the qualifying patient has legitimate medical need for marijuana.

-Lines 88-89 should be stricken (reason: no second hand danger in palliative use)

-Section 2c (lines 102-139) be stricken (reason: arbitrary, exclusionary and labor restriction)

-Section 3 (lines 140-177) be amended to read: A qualifying patient is protected by doctor/patient confidentiality ethics and federal privacy laws.

-Section 9b2 (lines 250-251) be stricken (reason: a pharmacist stipulation is unnecessary, considering patient experience of self-use; medication is a plant, more suited to botanist oversight)

-Section 13 (lines 378-418) be amended to read: The Commissioner of Consumer Protection shall establish a Board consisting of a dozen individuals from various aspects of the community, including Citizens, Public Servants and Medical Professionals; to independently evaluate the application of the State Medical Marijuana Laws and make policy recommendations to the State Executive and Legislative Branch.

-Section 14b (line 427) amended to read: The Commissioner of Consumer Protection shall receive no fee for patient access to a doctor prescribed medication.

-Section 14(4) (line 459) amended to read: The Commissioner of Consumer Protection shall not exclude any medical treatment or disease, as noted by a physician.

Dr. Gary Blick, Circle Care Center: I have been practicing medicine as a General Internist and HIV/AIDS Specialist in the State of CT since 1987. I would like to testify in support of HB-5389 by sharing my medical experiences with patients who have inhaled marijuana for various medical conditions and illnesses. I can personally testify to marijuana's effects in alleviating moderate-to-severe nausea, with or without vomiting, caused by HIV/AIDS medications, chemotherapy, and/or AIDS-related opportunistic infections. Inhaled marijuana, in my opinion, is the single most effective anti-emetic, with rapid and prolonged relief and minimal toxicities, aside from euphoria. Although, prescription THC, the active component of marijuana, is available as oral dronabinal, many patients are unable to ingest oral medications when suffering from anorexia with nausea/vomiting, a complication not associated with inhaled marijuana. I can also testify to the beneficial effects of inhaled marijuana for chronic musculoskeletal and neuropathic pain conditions associated with HIV/AIDS, cancer and associated chemotherapies, and chronic hepatitis. My mother used marijuana to alleviate some of the symptoms from glaucoma. Despite the fact that standard prescription eye drops for glaucoma failed my mother, medical marijuana corrected her refractory glaucoma, alleviated the need for her to undergo laser surgery, and thus, saved her vision.

Eric Baier: I have been diagnosed with severe fibromyalgia as well as a mood disorder and a sleep disorder. I have taken various medications and none of them seem to work. I received genetic testing that found that my genetic make-up predisposes me from being able to be treated by standard pharmaceuticals. I believe that medical marijuana may be my only hope of ever getting any treatment/relief for my symptoms.

The Drug Policy Alliance, Gabriel Sayegh: We urge you to amend and support this important legislation aimed at reducing the suffering of seriously ill patients in Connecticut. The effectiveness of marijuana for palliative use has been firmly established. Research establishes the effectiveness of medical marijuana in relieving a range of symptoms including: pain, muscle spasms, nausea, loss of appetite, and wasting syndrome. Further, Connecticut residents are in support of medical marijuana and so are various groups around the country including the ACLU, Physicians Association for AIDS care, and the American Medical Association's Council on Scientific Affairs. Suggestions- Include provision for patient production of palliative marijuana. Licensed pharmacists should not be the only party eligible to operate a dispensary. There should be an option for one entity to produce and distribute to patients so that the law does not require entities to distribute between each other in violation of federal law. Financial restrictions on producers should be reduced. “Pharmaceutical Grade”-there is no such thing as pharmaceutical grade marijuana and if this term is used it needs to be defined. Section 15 should allow patients and caregivers to cultivate until the distribution system is actually distributing. There should be a severability clause.

Circle Care Center, Gloria Blick, Billing Specialist: I suffered from glaucoma and was scheduled to have surgery to relief the pressure in my eyes to prevent blindness. My son, Dr. Gary Blick (testified above), recommended that I try marijuana. I began using marijuana and the pressure in my eyes dropped and I was not required to have surgery anymore. I believe that medical marijuana has the potential to save the eyesight of many Americans just like myself.

Joey Adamaitis: I believe in our country's core philosophy to have the freedom of choice. We have the freedom to choose what religion we want to follow, what school we want to go to, what state we want to live in, and who we want to vote for. But for some reason we do not have the right to choose which medicine we can put in our own body. I think any person should be able to use medical marijuana, no matter if that person has a headache, menstrual cramps, stomach ache, sleeping problems, cancer, glaucoma, AIDS, or depression. Cannabis has been used to treat all of those conditions throughout human history and no law is going to prevent me from using it as I see fit.

John McDonald: Suggests- Require testing for prospective patients for marijuana use to eliminate the disingenuous. Eliminate the doctor hopping patient by requiring an up to date medical history for each patient before a doctor can prescribe medical marijuana. Require a blind study second opinion to eliminate any unscrupulous doctors from giving out marijuana when a patient doesn't qualify. Create a “single supplier” system. Only distribute marijuana in cigarette form to standardize the product, allowing for more control. Do not allow direct shipment of marijuana to a patient, to make sure no one can steal the packages. Marijuana should only be available through pharmacies, no private stores. No out of state patients should be allowed to receive medical marijuana.

Kathleen O'Callaghan: I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 1995. I have used marijuana as a medicine as it helps my coordination, balance, and spasms. I have taken some medications over the years to theoretically slow the progression of the disease but there is nothing to relieve the symptoms. I am asking you to approve this bill so I can access my medicine safely. Now I take risks in places I need to buy it and I cannot be assured it is natural and not mixed with legal or illegal substances.

Lindsey Beck: I have Crohn's disease, which is a chronic digestive disorder, as well as PTSD. Both of these disorders have led to my becoming disabled. Both of these disorders have been significantly improved through my use of marijuana; to the point where I believe, if given the right to utilize it medicinally to its full effect, my status as 'disabled' would no longer be necessary. I tried the Fentynol patch when my doctors prescribed it but it made me feel a lot worse. I was bedridden, my hair fell out, I had bedsores and it was not uncommon for rashes to cover my body. The medicine changed my personality. I secluded myself from everyone including my family. I would like to go back to school and it would be wonderful if while doing that I could stop being afraid that what is helping me progress could also lead to my incarceration.

Mark Braunstein: I am paralyzed from the waist down. Muscles paralyzed by spinal cord injury experience involuntary spasms and intractable pains. I learned that marijuana relaxes spasms more effectively than do tranquilizers and relieves pains more safely than do narcotics. And it is one medication for spinal cord injury that treats both the spasms and the pains. My doctors approve my medical use of marijuana but in CT they can not legally prescribe nor recommend it. I believe there needs to be a change and I support the bill.

Peter C. Smith: My son was diagnosed with Burkitt's Lymphoma. He was forced into chemotherapy and was in massive amounts of pain. He took medication and had a high pain tolerance. He never asked for any marijuana but if he did I would have tried to get him some. I wasn't exactly sure how to go about obtaining marijuana but I would have tried anything for my son. I support this bill. The bill before you can ensure that caregivers are not forced on to the street to buy marijuana, with no safeguards, no protection and no quality control of the product. Please make 2012 the year that Connecticut joins with the 16 other states around the country that allow patients to access medical marijuana without going on the streets to find a drug dealer.

Richard Burgess: I have personally witnessed good people living through unnecessary pain and discomfort due to medical problems and injuries and their reluctance to use opiate based medications for fear of dependence and many side effects. Many people who live with persistent pain would greatly appreciate a drug with such few side effects and dependency problems as marijuana and the benefits from research and free market that could follow as the state relaxed the laws and regulations around the marijuana industry. My support comes with the urging that the legislature consider eventually removing all regulations and restrictions on marijuana to stop the drug war we have going on and to allow an easily grown plant that has many benefits and few problems when compared to the drugs prescribed by doctors daily to be ingested freely by the free men and women in this state.

UConn Undergraduate Student Government, Sam Tracy,: I support the bill but I am concerned that the current bill unfairly discriminates against college students. Lines 92 and 93 of the bill state that the use of marijuana will remain illegal on “college or university property”. Yes, students should not smoke marijuana in their rooms, medicinal or not, because of smoke damage and the risk of second-hand smoke to other students. However, there are other ways of using marijuana. Suggests-Rather than banning it outright, the state of Connecticut should allow non-smoking methods in dorm rooms, and allow colleges and universities to provide a location in the student health center where medical marijuana patients can use their medicine.

Brian St. Onge: I am diagnosed with severe manic depression, bi-polar tendencies, and social and general anxiety disorder. I believe that I would benefit from the use of medical cannabis, as would many others in the state of Connecticut. There are many in Connecticut, including myself, who are forced to live in fear of criminal prosecution and reprisal due to the fact that we choose to medicate with cannabis, rather than pharmaceutical poisons. Suggests-My only concern is regarding, Section 1 Part 2, the definition of a “debilitating medical condition”. I believe it would immensely improve HB-5389 to amend the language from an arbitrary list of “debilitating” conditions to allow doctors to decide on a patient by patient basis who they believe would benefit from the cannabis.

Dan Montouri: I have chronic Lyme disease and suffered a spinal injury that creates a kink in my back. My neck injury causes cluster headaches and seizures. I started obtaining marijuana from drug dealers due to a recommendation from a doctor. I was disfigured by a Criminal Informant and need a safer place to obtain marijuana.

Dr. Alan Shackleford: I have had the privilege of advising several State Senators and Representatives during deliberations in the Colorado legislature in 2010 as well as since on establishing a system regulating Colorado's medical marijuana industry, and serve on the medical marijuana advisory work group established by the Colorado Department of Revenue which now oversees and regulates the industry in Colorado. Furthermore, in the past several years I have been privileged to care for hundreds of patients who use medical marijuana to treat a wide variety of medical conditions and symptoms, and have observed first-hand the many impressive benefits they have realized from its use. Dr. Shackleford opined that marijuana is not addictive, it doesn't cause mental illness, marijuana isn't dangerous just because it isn't regulated by the FDA, it doesn't suppress the immune system, it is not a gateway drug and marijuana doesn't damage the lungs. In short, allowing physicians to add medical marijuana to the treatment options available to them to help their patients will improve the quality of life for a great many people in Connecticut for whom currently available treatments are not adequate.

Ophthalmic Surgeons of Greater Bridgeport, Dr. Marc L. Weitzman: William Campbell is under my care for his severe glaucoma in his only seeing right eye. Despite maximal medical therapy his intra-ocular pressure is still somewhat suboptimal. If he is able to obtain medicinal marijuana his glaucoma control should improve.

Ellen S. Burgess: My husband was seriously injured in an accident at work and has dauntlessly endured multiple surgeries and medical procedures, physical therapy, physical limitations, and forced retirement with his head high and his spirit intact. He is in constant pain and is always looking for a way to relieve the pain. For people to have to spend their days wishing for relief from pain is simply not acceptable, when there is a remedy just outside the boundary of law.

National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws CT Chapter, Erik Williams: CT NORML supports allowing doctors and patients to make medical decisions and to have legal access to medical marijuana. Too many CT citizens are suffering from illnesses, inflictions, and ailments and should not have to suffer the indignity of also being criminals. Suggests-We support having a licensed pharmacist either on-site at dispensaries during all operating hours, on-site for limited hours, or available on call to patients. But making licensing available only to pharmacists is not the way to go. You should open the opportunity to any Connecticut resident or company with the pharmacist being on-site being mandatory. We see a need to define “manufacturer” along with “dispensary” and “licensed producer”. We feel each definition should include the term “a Connecticut company or resident”, to make sure that this is kept in Connecticut.

George D. Burgess: Husband of Ellen S. Burgess (testified above)-My chronic pain cannot be predicted. I worry about the short-term and long-term effects of ingesting several different medications, including opiates and narcotics, over the rest of my life. If I were able to legally use marijuana for pain relief, I would be able to match my use to my pain, and get immediate relief when it is needed, instead of ingesting narcotics every 6 hours to “take the edge off”.

James Proto, The Connecticut Hospice: The Physicians and Pharmacists of the Connecticut Hospice, regard THC, the active ingredient in cannabis sativa as having a potentially very useful place in end of life symptom management. There is supportive evidence for its use in the management of nausea, anorexia and neuropathic pain associated with chronic diseases, included but not limited to cancer. We at the Connecticut Hospice, currently employ an oral derivative of Cannabis. We endorse the careful clinical use of all dosage of Cannabis to relieve nausea, vomiting, and anorexia at the end of life. We look forward to the approval of additional dosage forms of Cannabis to our Pharmacological formulary. We would trial the product specifically for pain and suffering related to serious medical conditions.

John Watkins: This bill has a personal impact on my family. My wife has recently been diagnosed with leukemia and my daughter was born with an epileptic condition that caused her to have up to 80 noticeable seizures per day. The medical benefits of cannabis are widely known. Wouldn't you want to know that every available treatment was there for you or your loved one to ensure wellness? I ask as a husband and a father that you share a concern for the suffering of chronically ill residents of our state so that tomorrow we can ensure their quality of life through appropriate and safe use of medicinal cannabis.

Laurie Roberts: I have been living with Degenerative Disc Disease, Osteoarthritis, and severe chronic muscle spasms since I was in my teenage years. The side effects of the medication I take include nausea, severe constipation, sudden uncontrollable sweating, agitation and mood swings, dizziness, memory problems, and sleepiness. I am constantly searching for relief of my chronic pain and depression and came upon research of marijuana being used for a variety of illnesses. I decided to try to see if it would help me and it did help out quite a bit and I did not have any detrimental consequences. I think it is my right to be able to use the natural medication of marijuana to treat my illnesses, as well as countless other citizens it may be of beneficial use.

Connecticut Pharmacist Association, Marghie Giuliano: The Connecicut Pharmacist Association cautiously supports the bill. Suggests-We suggest the following changes-First, we believe that marijuana should be made a Schedule II rather than a Schedule I drug. This would continue regulation of marijuana, but also recognize that it has been accepted to have some medical use for patients with pain, nausea, and vomiting from chemotherapy and other situations. Second: expand the definition of a “Licensed Dispensary” to mandate the dispensary is operated by a pharmacist licensed pursuant to chapter 400; of the general statutes. Third, we suggest tracking medical marijuana through the Prescription Monitoring Program (PMP). This would enable the prescriber to check whether the patient requesting the marijuana has been seen by other prescribers or is potentially “doctor shopping” for it. Fourth, we suggest an amendment that would require prescribers to obtain a special DEA designation to prescribe medical marijuana. Such a system would be capable of tracking the approved prescribers of the drug. Fifth, we submit that all marijuana should be grown and produced by licensed growers. If we are going to “legitimize” the medical use of marijuana then we should treat it like any other “medication.” There need to be standards for growing, quality assurance, labeling, packaging, and dosing. Finally, Section 13 calls for the establishment of a Board of Physicians who are knowledgeable about the palliative use of marijuana. We would recommend that this board be more broadly defined and include pharmacists who are knowledgeable in the pharmacologic properties of marijuana. Pain management pharmacists should also be included.

Peter Angelini: I became involved in supporting palliative use of marijuana several years ago after hearing deeply painful stories from families who were suffering with debilitating illnesses. Medical marijuana has been proven to help the ailments of various types of diseases and disorders. Although, marijuana doesn't completely cure most of these serious ailments, it lets the person tolerate the symptoms more manageably than any prescription pill could ever; it lets them enjoy their life. The legislation that is proposed is thoughtfully written. The bill uses the best examples that each state has to offer. Connecticut can create the best model to date to regulate safe access to patients that are suffering each and every minute of the day.

Richard Lise, Vintage Foods: I represent what the business face of medical marijuana should look like in Connecticut. As a Connecticut business, our mission will be to operate a grow facility, functional food manufacturing kitchen and dispensary to serve the registered patients within our state. It is imperative that any regulation, not favor large existing out of state corporations, some are here today visiting Connecticut for the first time. Suggestion-Bill 5389 makes no provisions for non-smoking delivery systems, specifically food and beverage products. On the patient's behalf, I strongly urge language be included to address this.

Students for a Sensible Drug Policy, University of Connectictut: This bill enables more choice for your constituency through detailed, comprehensive measures that effectively ensure the use and distribution of marijuana for medical purposes. At last Wednesday's hearing, Senator Kissel, to one of our members and also a medical marijuana user, Salvatore Sodaro, said “If it alleviates your pain so you can go on and do all the other things in your life then I'm completely in support of that”; this, in essence, is exactly why HB 5389 is a pressing bill that needs to get passed in our state immediately.

NATURE AND SOURCES OF OPPOSITION:

Sen. Toni Boucher, Deputy Minority Leader, Connecticut State Senate: It is disappointing that in this year's session, filled with hope for educational reform, we should be considering a bill that would send such a negative message to our families and children. I have reams of data which speak to the unhealthy effects of marijuana on the heart, lungs, immune system, and brain. If this is about helping the afflicted manage pain, there are many alternative drugs that would keep patients alert and functional as they look forward to recovery from a serious illness. Please consider that the committee is deliberating on a serious policy change that puts us in direct conflict with the US Department of Justice. California voters approved the use of medical marijuana in 1996, but its use remains illegal under federal law. The abuse inherent in this bill cannot be prevented; this has been proven by other states. These states have seen an alarming increase in marijuana use, crime, higher cost to communities and state services, law enforcement and lower property values and negative changes in the quality of life in their communities. I am tremendously grateful and proud that we have fought repeated attempts in the past to take our state down this dangerous path and have not broken a trust with our constituents of doing no harm. Let us all work together to keep our children and neighborhoods safe.

Save Our Society From Drugs, Calvina Fay, Executive Director: HB 5389 ignores the fact that marijuana is an illegal drug not approved as medicine by the FDA, and its use is, therefore, unregulated. This has significant implications for patient care since there are too many health risks associated with such use. It is also assumed that the program will be only used by people who have debilitating medical conditions, but it has been shown from programs in other states that abuse of the system is prevalent. States that have legalized marijuana under the guise of medicine are now working to restrict and in some cases repeal their programs. In fact, Delaware, the most recent state to pass a medical marijuana law, has halted implementation of the law due to valid concerns over federal prosecution. Marijuana remains illegal under federal law and a recently released memorandum by the Deputy Attorney General specifically noted that the prosecution of significant traffickers of illegal drugs, including marijuana, remains a core priority of the Department of Justice. I hope that you will consider these findings and reject HB 5389.

Connecticut State Medical Society, Mark L. Kraus, M.D.: All cannabis-based and cannabinoid medications should be subjected to the rigorous scrutiny of the Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulatory process. This process provides important protection for patients. All major medical organizations support the FDA approval process. Rigorous research is needed to better understand the significance of different cannabinoid formulations and ratios, as well as methods of administration and dose-response relationships. The practice of medicine must be evidence based; all medical interventions should be justified by high-quality data. A physician should not advise a patient to seek a treatment option about which the physician has inadequate information regarding composition, dose, side effects, or appropriate therapeutic targets and patient populations.

Connecticut Society of Eye Physicians, Dr. Steven Thornquist: Our concern is with the inclusion of glaucoma in the list of debilitating medical conditions. Glaucoma is rarely debilitating and is not responsive to any palliative effect that has been attributed to marijuana. Loss of vision, the primary symptom that occurs with glaucoma, does not abate in response to marijuana so there is no opportunity to use it for a palliative effect. The only eye effect attributable to marijuana is an extremely weak and short-lived pressure lowering effect that while not harmful, is hardly helpful in light of the significant uncertainty entailed in using an inhaled chemical with inherent inconsistency in quality and quantity of effect. In closing, without scientific studies supporting the use of marijuana as a palliative agent for glaucoma, we cannot support HB 5389.

Southeastern Regional Action Council, Angela Duhaime: The FDA has not approved cannabis as a medicine. In fact, new research in the past couple of years has brought attention to increased health risks associated with its use. Long term risks include sleep impairment, chronic cough, and bronchitis, increased mental health risks such as anxiety, depression and amotivational syndrome. There are other options available beside smoking marijuana to potentially utilize the benefits of the ingredient THC and they warrant further considerations. Passing a law without scientific conclusion of its medical benefit will have an adverse effect on the perception of harm of marijuana for all.

Health Assistance Intervention Education Network, Dr. Maureen Sullivan: Raised bill 5389 appears to follow a minority of states which are recognizing medical marijuana. HAVEN asks that Connecticut not follow these states at this time. Bill 5389 is fatally flawed as it fails to balance palliative pain management concerns and addiction medicine concerns. This is especially apparent when we consider the role of medical care professionals as patients as well as providers. Healthcare professionals suffer from substance abuse disorders at the same rate as the general population. HAVEN is required by law to represent whether participants in our program are practicing healthcare with skill and safety and without posing a threat to the health and safety of any person or patient in the healthcare setting. HAVEN's position must be that the palliative use of marijuana by a healthcare professional endangers the health or well-being of their patients. Suggestion-The advisory board criteria is not adequate, as an addiction specialist is not to be included on the board. An addiction specialist is essential for such an advisory committee. The omission of a physician board certified in addiction medicine underscores the major flaw in this bill—the lack of recognition of addiction as an illness and public health risk.

Linda Cavanaugh: The law would make it illegal for a person to use marijuana in front of anyone under the age of 18—how can this be enforced in a private setting? What is the cost benefit to the state? You, our legislators, have a fiduciary responsibility to us. In this time of austerity and cuts, where other programs, staff and services have been substantively reduced or eliminated entirely, it is not enough for a program to be worthwhile, it must be a high enough priority item that have a positive effect on the majority of the citizens of Connecticut. We can't afford boutique programs anymore. Please, just say no.

Reported by: Robert Sheehan

Date: 3/26/12