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Connecticut is one of 38 states that have approved the use of cannabis for the treatment of certain medical conditions. The state participates in what is called the Medical Marijuana Program, which requires both doctors and patients be registered and hold a certificate in order to dispense or use cannabis medicinally.

In order to qualify for the program, patients must be Connecticut residents who are 18 years of age or older and diagnosed with a qualifying illness.

In September 2014, there were 2,300 registered participants in the Medical Marijuana Program, but that number has risen steadily and currently sits at over 4,000. Despite the increase, it is estimated that the state’s dispensaries and manufacturers have the capacity to serve upwards of 20,000 individuals.

The number of registered participants will likely increase with proposed legislation that would add more medical conditions to the existing list. There are currently only 11 diagnoses that have received approval:

  • Cancer
  • Glaucoma
  • HIV positive status or AIDS
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Nervous tissue damage of the spinal cord with objective neurological indication of intractable spasticity
  • Epilepsy
  • Cachexia
  • Wasting syndrome
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Post traumatic stress disorder

Oftentimes, those diagnosed with these conditions undergo significant medical intervention without full relief of symptoms. Many turn to cannabis to get relief from pain and other symptoms that cause severe discomfort.

Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is one of the most well-known cannabinoids and is proven to reduce nausea and pain and stimulate appetite. Cannabidiol (CBD) is another cannabinoid which is effective at reducing seizures, inflammation and anxiety. Medical marijuana patient Norman Nadeau states he started using cannabis because:

“I wanted to get a better quality of life. I wanted to be myself again….It starts acting on my disability right away, and then it lasts for 2 or 3 hours.”

Jonathan Harris, the Consumer Protection Commissioner for the state, has announced recently that the agency is drafting regulations to add amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (often known as ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease), Fabry disease and ulcerative colitis to that list.

All three conditions were reviewed and voted on by the Medical Marijuana Program’s Board of Physicians, which operates under the authority of the Department of Consumer Protection. Before being sent to the legislature’s Regulation Review Committee for a vote, there will likely be a public hearing and comment period as well as a review by the attorney general.

Other diseases such as sickle cell disease are farther along in the process of legalization, although no timeline is given for approval.

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