Photo by Victoria Pickering
Nearly two years after legalizing medical cannabis, licensed patients in Connecticut will finally be able to purchase and consume marijuana from a limited number of dispensaries located throughout the state.
Beginning in September, patients registered with the Department of Consumer Protection will have access to loose leaf cannabis as well as edibles, concentrates and topical treatments to assist in the management of debilitating medical conditions Patients must also register at one of the six state-approved dispensaries located throughout the state in South Windsor, Branford, Bethel, Bristol, Hartford and Uncasville.
Dispensaries will need to renew their licenses every two years and adhere to stringent health, safety and security requirements. Regulations won’t allow dispensaries to carry cannabis-infused candy or drinks, although there will still be other edibles like brownies, cookies and other desserts.
Before qualifying for a license, patients must first consult with a doctor who can diagnose them with one of the 11 chronic medical conditions currently accepted by the state including cancer, HIV or AIDS, epilepsy and post-traumatic stress disorder. After that, the doctor certifies how much each patient will be allowed to purchase each month with 2.5 ounces being the maximum amount. Patients must then consult with a pharmacist on the staff at the dispensary who develops a treatment plan that they must follow.
There are currently four manufacturers that are licensed to grow – Advanced Grow Labs LLC, Curaleaf LLC in Simsbury, Theraplant LLC in Watertown and Connecticut Pharmaceutical Solutions in Portland. Employees of these companies must undergo thorough background checks before being licensed and are required to wear pocketless clothes to prevent theft.
One thing that isn’t clear is the cost. Prices are still being determined and will be heavily influenced by specific legislation that is enforced. Either way, because medical cannabis isn’t covered by insurance companies, patients will be responsible for the cost.
William M. Rubenstein, the Commissioner of consumer protection, said “We expect once the program is fully operational and all producers and dispensary facilities are up and running, competition within the program will provide medical patients with better medicinal quality products and better pricing than the black market.”
More than 2,000 people are currently registered patients but that number will likely skyrocket following the implementation of the medical program. Patients won’t be able to grow their own cannabis, only licensed producers will be allowed to cultivate without facing legal consequences. Whether the six dispensaries and four manufacturers will be able to keep up with the demand will remain to be seen.
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