Everybody knows that marijuana remains illegal under federal law—but you likely also know that the tides are turning, and that a total of 20 states plus the District of Colombia have condoned the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes, with many of them setting up systems wherein patients can safely and legally obtain MMJ. Connecticut is one of the latest states to join this list, and MMJ sales will be under way sooner rather than later.
As that day swiftly approaches, we’re happy to run down everything you need to know about Connecticut’s MMJ program.
The Program at a Glance
A report from Reuters suggests that, while patients cannot currently obtain legal MMJ in Connecticut, the state’s MMJ infrastructure is being erected at a rapid rate: Governor Dannel Malloy has said that medical marijuana will be on sale by summer 2014, dispensed by four different state-approved vendors.
Reports Reuters: “The selected dispensaries are Advanced Grow Labs, LLC, in West Haven; Connecticut Pharmaceutical Solutions, LLC, in Portland; Curaleaf, LLC, in Simsbury, and Theraplant, LLC, in Watertown.”
So far, several hundred patients have been certified for the state’s MMJ program, which was officially signed into law back in 2012.
Registering for the Connecticut MMJ Program
For those who live in Connecticut and would like to register as MMJ patients—to be ready when the dispensaries are opened this summer—what are the steps to take? First, note that qualifying for this program requires you to be at least 18, and you have to be a resident of Connecticut. Of course, you will also need to complete the registration process with a primary caregiver, so the only way to make this happen is to see your doctor and inquire about MMJ as a possible treatment for your symptoms.
One unique facet of the Connecticut program is that registration is 100 percent digital. The process happens entirely online, and it involves three steps:
1. It is your physician who must begin the process, initiating it by logging into a secure online system to certify that you—the patient—do indeed have a diagnosed condition and that you might benefit from MMJ use.
2. Once your doctor has submitted a valid digital certification, you will be given access to the system where you can complete your part of the application—filling in personal information about yourself.
3. Should the physician certify the need for a primary caregiver, the caregiver will need to log in after you and complete the application.
A final note to make is that the state does charge a registration fee of $100—and yes, registration is mandatory for MMJ patients.
Who Gets Approved—and Who Does the Approving?
Crucially, there is a somewhat narrow list of medical conditions that will qualify a patient for MMJ use—just as there is in all other MMJ states. The Connecticut list includes cancer, glaucoma, HIV, AIDS, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, cachexia, wasting syndrome, Crohn’s disease, PTSD, and nervous system or spinal cord damage with intractable spasticity.
Also important to understand is the fact that the only doctors who are going to be able to get you into the system are the ones who are familiar with the MMJ program and who understand its inner workings—and that’s hardly going to be all doctors in the state. Simply put, not a lot of physicians in the state are yet on board with the MMJ program, though more and more of them are learning the ropes all the time.
Selecting a Dispensary
The biggest hurdle that Connecticut patients will face as they seek to obtain MMJ is the simple fact that, as of now, there are so few dispensaries to choose from—just the four, at least here at the outset of the program—and you’ll need to pre-select a dispensary during the registration process. This dispensary will be your sole source of MMJ, which is a little bit of a shame: We generally recommend that patients try a few different dispensaries to find the one they like most and feel most comfortable with, something that’s not as much of an option for Connecticut residents.
The Waiting Game
For now, there is only so much that Connecticut patients can do about their MMJ needs; there remain a few weeks before dispensaries will be open. In the mean time, you can and should speak with your physician about MMJ, to determine whether he or she can help you register—and, if needed, to locate a new physician. You might also register in advance, so that you’ll be ready when the MMJ market opens. We’ll keep our site updated with new details as they unfold, and as Connecticut joins the list of states that are truly friendly to marijuana patients.