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Connecticut’s New Medical Marijuana Program

On May 17th, Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy signed a new bill into law addressing previous concerns about minors not having access to medical marijuana should they need it. Before the bill, Connecticut was the only state with a legalized medical marijuana program that excluded patients under the age of 18. House Bill 5450 calls for expanded access, allowing patients of any age to possess and consume medical marijuana products. The bill also broadens the approved conditions list to include “uncontrolled intractable seizure disorder, irreversible spinal cord injury with objective neurological indication of intractable spasticity, cerebral palsy, cystic fibrosis, or terminal illness requiring end-of-life care.”

One important point in the bill specifically addresses nurses and other healthcare providers, protecting them from “criminal, civil, or disciplinary sanction if they choose to administer marijuana to a qualifying patient in a hospital setting.” It’s a landmark victory for families with children who are suffering but don’t want the nasty side effects of pharmaceuticals.

Six-year-old Henry Lloyd, who suffers from severe epilepsy, sits with his parents Linda and Chris Lloyd, on the front steps of their Pawcatuck home, Monday, March 7, 2016. Linda testified in favor of a bill that would legalize medical marijuana for minors. (Tim Martin/The Day)

The Lloyd Family, Courtesy of Tim Martin/The Day

We reached out to Linda Lloyd, the Connecticut mom from the original story, who has been fighting for expanded access to medical marijuana for minors on behalf of her son Henry. She issued the following statement:

Myself and my husband join a group of other parents in celebrating the signing of Bill 5450!  We are patiently waiting for October 1st so we can pursue this treatment for our 7-year-old son Henry who has refractory epilepsy.

We want to express our sincere gratitude to the members of the Public Health Committee that heard the parent testimonies with compassion and an open mind, and also thank the House of Representatives and the Senate for their supporting votes. This was the right decision, not only for the sick children who will benefit from this bill, but also for the State of Connecticut. This bill is providing a new treatment option to children who, quite frankly, have run out of options. Through close communication with the dispensaries and the physicians, it will allow children to have these beneficial oils tailored to their specific needs, which is so important. Our heart is full knowing we may have contributed a small part by sharing our story.

Linda Lloyd

It’s also worth noting that Maine passed a similar new bill protecting hospital staff from criminal charges should they administer, or allow a patient to administer, medical marijuana on premises. Connecticut and Maine are at the forefront of this movement, as they’re the first two states to offer immunity to hospitals and their respective staff should they allow patients to medicate with cannabis. It will be interesting to see which other states follow suit and pass similar bills, or if Big Pharma’s lobbyists will fight back against the clear threat to their bottom line.

Header Image Courtesy of Lukasz Stefanski

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