Hearing discusses statewide expansion of medical marijuana use - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Hearing discusses statewide expansion of medical marijuana use

A public hearing on the use of medical marijuana was held at the Department of Consumer Protection in Hartford. (WFSB) A public hearing on the use of medical marijuana was held at the Department of Consumer Protection in Hartford. (WFSB)

A public hearing in Hartford on Wednesday morning discussed the possibly of the expansion of the state’s medical marijuana program.

The meeting at the Department of Consumer Protection involved the state, doctors and advocates hoping that more medical conditions will be added to those already approved for the drug.

According to the Department of Consumer Protection, there are 15,000 medical pot patients in Connecticut.

The state's medical marijuana program has grown rapidly since being signed into law in 2012. It began with just six marijuana dispensaries. Two more have been added since then.

Connecticut was one of 25 states that allow medical pot for people suffering from certain conditions. Right now, it is permitted for patients with 17 specific conditions including seizures. Children are also able to take it but with some restrictions.

Advocates of the drug made the case that several more conditions to the list. 

"Even just wearing clothing against his skin is irritating," Regina Walsh said about her 95-year-old father. 

Walsh said her father suffers from an especially painful form of shingles that has destroyed his quality of life and added that regular medicine has not helped him. 

"It has really wakened him," Walsh said. "The medicines that doctors have prescribed really are just further weakening him, so he's had some falls.”

Her research brought her to types of balm and topical treatment with cannabis as its base.

"The results are positive," Walsh said. "The people are getting some positive results.”

Despite past expansions, there are concerns about side effects and over-use of the drug.

According to Consumer Protection Commissioner Jonathan Harris, medical marijuana has been found to be a safer alternative for treating pain compared to opioids.

On Wednesday, the board voted to recommend adding the following conditions to those that could be treated with medical marijuana:

  • Muscular dystrophy for adults and minors 
  • Fibromyalgia in adults, but only with neuropathic pain and/or spasticity 
  • Post Herpetic Neuralgia, Peripheral Neuropathy and Allodynia from Shingles
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis

The final disease is what Walsh's father suffers from. 

Doctors on this board say they want to add more conditions considered debilitating. 

“Rather than restricting it, I think we want to open it to any condition where there is good evidence that it can be helpful, because we don’t want people to suffer," Dr. Andrew Salner, who is a the chief of radiation oncology at Hartford Hospital and on the state Board of Physicians, said. 

Wednesday’s recommendations aren’t final, there would be more public comment if this moves forward as well as be reviewed by the attorney general and lawmakers. 

For more on the state’s medical marijuana program and conditions under review, click here, or contact the Drug Control Division at dcp.mmp@ct.gov or by calling 860-713-6066. 

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