Stamford Criminal Attorney Describes Marijuana Law

On June 1, 2012, Connecticut became the 17th state to have a Medical Marijuana law.  The legislation is not a wholesale legalization of the drug but is intended to provide a strictly regulated palliative treatment choice.  Mark Sherman, a widely respected Stamford criminal attorney, offers a brief explanation of the new law.

Basic Requirements

Legislators incorporated many lessons learned from the experience of other states with similar statutes when drafting what is the most restrictive medical marijuana program in the US to date.  The following are the basic requirements that patients must meet to participate in the program.

  • Patients must suffer from one of the chronic debilitating physical conditions listed in the bill which include cancer, glaucoma, AIDS, HIV, Parkinson’s Disease, multiple sclerosis, spinal cord nerve damage, epilepsy, eachexia, wasting syndrome, Chrohn’s disease, PSTD, or other documented medical conditions.
  • Patients with qualifying medical conditions must obtain a written certification from a medical doctor.
  • Patients must be 18 years of age and a resident of Connecticut.
  • Inmates at any state or local institution do not qualify regardless of their medical condition.
  • After obtaining certification, the patient must then register with the Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection (DCP).
  • Patients can begin the registration process October 1, 2012.

Limitations

Citizens must be aware of the strict limitations imposed on users by the new laws.  Failure to follow these can quickly result in the need for a Greenwich criminal attorney.  To begin with, no one will be allowed to grow their own marijuana.  Patients are also banned from using marijuana in the presence of a minor, on public property, in an automobile or near a school.  Patients can possess a maximum one-month supply of the product, and that quantity will be determined by a panel of medical practitioners.

Oversight Requirements

In some states, requirements are so broad that anyone can pay a fee to a willing doctor can get a permit for any kind of medical condition. The Connecticut legislature was determined not to allow such wholesale use and imposed a number of restrictions.

  • An 8 member panel of board certified physicians will recommend what medical conditions should fall under the “other” category. Marijuana must be purchased from a state licensed dispensary.
  • The law currently allows a very limited number of dispensaries in the state.
  • Marijuana must be obtained by the dispensaries from a state licensed production facility.
  • Doctors who write prescriptions for medical marijuana will be exposed to additional oversight.
  • Prescriptions can only be written as a result of a medical examination and be part of an actual doctor/patient relationship.

Obviously, the states do not have the ability to overturn federal law regarding the sale and disposition of marijuana and in some states participating facilities are facing federal prosecution.  This is another reason the Connecticut legislature placed so many restrictions upon the program; to reduce the possibility of a federal intervention.  People who are contemplating participation either as a patient or as a provider may wish to consult with a Stamford criminal attorney in advance in order to fully understand and comply with the legal intricacies.

Other Recent Marijuana Legislation

Another recent change in Connecticut marijuana possession laws occurred a few months ago with the decriminalization of possession of a very small amount of marijuana.  The offense is no longer considered a misdemeanor and people caught with small amounts are given citations which carry a $150 fine for the first offense.

Unlike the medical marijuana legislations, the changes in possession laws can be retroactive.  If you have been found guilty of possession in the past for amounts now covered under the legislation and would like to clear your record of the charges, you can do so with the help of a Stamford criminal lawyer.