Connecticut lawmakers are poised to take up a perennial issue in the New England legislature: medical marijuana.
A new state bill proposes a licensing system to approve both growers of medical marijuana and qualified patients. The two-headed approach would pave the way for both the legal production and use of marijuana within the state of Connecticut.
NORML's executive director Erik Williams described the Connecticut bill as the best in the country. He is hopeful that marijuana reform activists will see positive movement on the legislation after a scheduled public hearing before the General Assembly's Judiciary Committee on Wednesday.
Despite strong support from national activists, the bill is not without its opponents at home. Republican State Senator Toni Boucher of Wilton remains skeptical of any proposed medical marijuana system. She has been one of the most outspoken opponents of marijuana reform in Connecticut, citing deleterious health effects of drug use and the potential for marijuana to act as a "gateway drug" for younger users.
"This is the wrong message," she said of new push for legalization. "We're telling kids this is medication and you just get a parking ticket."
Williams maintains that conservatives opposing marijuana reform are on the wrong side of history. 16 states and the District of Columbia currently allow patients with debilitating diseases to use medically prescribed marijuana. Connecticut almost became the 17th state last year when the House of Representatives amended a bill to address the prescription pot issue. That bill flopped in the State Senate.