Medical marijuana in Connecticut has cleared another hurdle after members of the General Assembly's Regulation Review Committee voted Tuesday to approve rules now in place to let growers start getting licenses.
The General Assembly passed a law this year which allowed medical marijuana and the close vote passed on Tuesday means marijuana growers can start doing business in Connecticut.
"It's the best birthday present I could have gotten because I am not a criminal," said Tracy Gamer Fanning, who suffers from brain cancer. "I have a card that says I am allowed to use marijuana."
Fanning said she tried a number of medications, but all of them made her sick.
But the passage raised many concerns, and two communities said they don't want growers in their town.
While lawmakers say they want to help those such as Fanning, they are concerned about abuse and the fact the federal government could pull the plug. The justice department has already gone after California dispensaries and banks that hold mortgages on clinics.
"They are going to prosecute people or states that go too far," said state Sen. Len Fasno, R-34, who is the co-chair of the General Assembly's Regulation Review Committee. "Connecticut is way out there on these regulations and the question is did they go far enough."
Passing medical marijuana was perhaps the easier part. The difficult task is figuring how it will work.
"We are focusing on what state statute permits," said Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection Commissioner William Rubenstein. "The federal government will do what it wants and we will move forward with our program."
The Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection started the process of three to 10 producers and dispensary facilities.
Shelton actually passed a moratorium just last month. In Ansonia, the city voted Monday night to delay any marijuana companies from coming in for at least a year.
Officials in Middletown and West Haven have already approved medical marijuana grow operations. Greenbelt Management will be able to grow up to 65 pounds of marijuana each month at the factory on Johnson Street in Middletown.
Both facilities would only be for growing and packaging and still need a license from the state before they start operations.
Fanning said she understands it's complicated but feels lawmakers are doing the right thing.
"On Sept. 3, I will be alive seven years since they said I have a brain tumor," Fanning said. "And I have brain cancer. No one thought I would be here."
Tuesday's vote paves the way for medical marijuana to be grown and sold in Connecticut. Licenses are expected to be granted by the end of the year.
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