Connecticut's Medical Marijuana Program continues to grow rapidly and over the past two years the number of patients has grown by 600 percent.
More than 1,200 have been approved to treat a number of serious medical conditions. Three more dispensaries are being built and starting this fall, children will be allowed to be patients.
There are 25 states that allow medical marijuana. Those running the program in Connecticut said they feel it is has many benefits and they are trying to keep up with demand.
Connecticut started with 6 marijuana dispensaries, but that has not been enough to keep up with the number of patients.
Two more dispensaries have been built in Waterbury and Milford. A third will be built soon.
"There are many benefits,” Department of Consumer Protection Commissioner Jonathan Harris said. “We saw that anecdotally on the ground every day. People getting health care that they need."
Harris said medical marijuana is recognized around the world for its medical benefits including pain relief.
Connecticut's Medical Marijuana Program allows use of marijuana for 17 conditions. Two significant changes are coming this fall. The program will be expanded to include children, parents and physicians and told lawmakers earlier this year that children who suffer seizures have fewer of them when treated with marijuana.
Connecticut will also be starting research because the federal government considers marijuana an illegal class one drug. There has been little, if any research. Yale and University of Connecticut have expressed interest in learning about the drugs benefits.
Like any drug, there are concerns about side effects and over-use. Harris said this country is having an epidemic with opioid addiction and added medical marijuana has been found to be a safer alternative to treating pain.
"This is another choice that doctors and health care professionals and their patients have to give good health care, access to another type of medicine,” Harris said.
There are more restrictions for children. They need permission from two doctors and only six illnesses are covered.
When it comes to doctors, more are now on board at first only 81 physicians felt comfortable recommending medical marijuana. And as of today, there are more than 500.
Copyright 2016 WFSB (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.