The Connecticut General Assembly





.I NAME: 1562.rpt

.I COMP: 12/13/96

.I REVW: loh000


.I TITLE: medical use of marijuana in Connecticut

.I NOTES: tjo


December 13, 1996 96-R-1562


FROM: George Coppolo, Chief Attorney

RE: Medical Use of Marijuana in Connecticut


You asked what the Connecticut law is concerning the medical use of marijuana and whether it has ever been used.

Connecticut law allows physicians to possess and supply marijuana to treat patients who have glaucoma or who are receiving chemotherapy. But they may do so only if they have first received a license from the Department of Consumer Protection (DCP). The law explicitly allows people suffering from glaucoma or the side effects of chemotherapy to possess marijuana prescribed by a physician for that purpose. But they may only possess an amount equal to or less than the amount supplied to them by their physician (CGS 21a-246 and 21a-253). Thus, the Connecticut law does not appear to allow a patient to grow his own marijuana. Rather, it must be supplied by a physician who has this special license from DCP.

The law was enacted in 1981 (PA 81-440, 4). According to Leo Roberge, Acting Director of DCPs Drug Control Division, no physician has ever asked to be licensed under this statute. Thus, marijuana has never been prescribed for a patient under this law.

Roberge theorized that no doctor has applied for a state license because the federal criminal penalties would continue to apply to the doctor unless he also received authorization from the federal Drug Enforcement Authority (DEA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). In order to get permission from DEA and FDA, Roberge indicated that a doctor must submit an acceptable research protocol. He was not aware whether any Connecticut doctor ever applied to the DEA or FDA for approval.

Bill Siddell in the DEAs Hartford office advised us that he was not aware whether any Connecticut doctor had ever applied for DEA or FDA approval. He also told us that his agency would only be able to provide information about such applications if we made a written request to DEAs Freedom of Information Office. We have sent a written request to them and will advise you when we receive a reply.

About nine years ago, the FDA approved "Marinol" which is made up of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC, the active ingredient in marijuana) in a sesame oil gelatin capsule. The product can be sold by pharmacies with a prescription. Marinol is intended for use to alleviate the side effects of chemotherapy. But Marinol itself has negative side effects, sometimes lasting two days, that has affected its popularity. Marinol is a Schedule II controlled substance because of the form of the product. Any other THC form is classified as Schedule I.