HARTFORD– A bill sponsored by Rep. Penny Bacchiochi (R-Somers) to give sick and dying patients access to marijuana for medicinal purposes moved one step closer to becoming law yesterday, passing the General Rules Committee. It will now go to the Senate floor for a full vote.
“I would like to thank Rep. Bacchiochi for her persistence and courage in sponsoring this compassionate care bill,” said Derrick Johns of Bristol. “I have severe glaucoma in both eyes, and this bill will give me access to a medicine that will add years to my ability to see.”
“Not only does this bill protect the rights of Connecticut citizens to receive compassionate care, but it also protects their sacred relationships with their physicians,” said Michael Blain, director of public policy for the Drug Policy Alliance.
The bill has broad bipartisan support, and has been championed by a Connecticut-based coalition including The Alliance Connecticut, United Methodist Church of Connecticut, Connecticut Nurses Association, Dr. Andrew Salner, Director of the Helen & Harry Gray Cancer Center at Hartford Hospital, A Better Way Foundation, and the Drug Policy Alliance. The bill is now on its way to the Senate, which will refer it back to additional committees.
A 2004 report by the UConn Center for Survey Research and Analysis found that 83% of Connecticut residents think adults should be allowed to use marijuana for medical purposes if a doctor prescribes it. According to a Time Magazine poll, 80% of Americans support patients’ right to medical marijuana. The Federally-funded Institute of Medicine, the American Academy of Family Physicians, and the American Public Health Association, among many other medical organizations, have all endorsed the medicinal value of marijuana for pain relief, control of nausea and vomiting and appetite stimulation.
36 states–including Connecticut–have passed legislation recognizing marijuana’s medicinal value, and ten states currently allow patients legal access to medical marijuana (Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington). In states that allow medical marijuana, recreational use among youth has not increased, nor has there been any increase in recreational marijuana use among the adult population.