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Connecticut: Medical Marijuana for Kids Bill Awaits Governor’s Signature

A bill to allow some children to participate in the state’s medical marijuana program is expected to soon be signed into law by Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy. House Bill 5450 received final approval in the State Senate last week after having previously passed in the House.

Once signed into law by Gov. Malloy, which he is expected to do soon, Connecticut will no longer be the only state with a comprehensive medical marijuana program that banns minors from participation. Connecticut approved the use of medical marijuana in 2012, but unfortunately for many families with sick children, there was no provision in the law allowing minors access to medical marijuana.

Once HB 5450 takes effect on October 1, minors under the age of 18 will be allowed to participate in a limited version of the state’s medical marijuana program, but will not have access to marijuana in a “smokable or vaporizable form.”

In order for a minor under 18 to be approved for dannelmedical marijuana use in the state, they must suffer from one of the following conditions: terminal illness requiring end-of-life care, irreversible spinal cord injury with objective neurological indication of intractable spasticity, cerebral palsy, cystic fibrosis, severe epilepsy or uncontrolled intractable seizure disorders.

Two separate doctors will need to provide medical marijuana recommendations to the patient — instead of just one physician needed for adults — and minors will need consent from a parent. Additionally, under the new bill, minors would not be allowed to purchase cannabis products at the state’s dispensaries. Instead, an appointed caregiver (such as a parent or guardian) would need to purchase medicine on the minor’s behalf.

The proposed bill also authorizes the Department of Consumer Protection, who oversees the state medical marijuana program, to allow hospitals and higher-education institutions to conduct research on medical marijuana.

Once the new law takes effect, it is estimated that approximately 100 children will be eligible to enroll in the program statewide.