A closer look at Connecticut's medical marijuana law

(WTNH) -- Medical Marijuana became legal in the state earlier this year, but the system of growing it and dispensing it to patients is still being worked out.

News 8's Jamie Muro takes a closer look at the business of using pot as medicine here in Connecticut.

The balance between pain and peace achieved with a harvested weed.

"It is one of the best medicines I have ever run into, ever," one woman said.

She hides in shadows, fearful of the law, but she could be your neighbor, your friend, your colleague, who suffered in agony for years with a debilitating disease, only to finally find relief in pot.

"Imagine if you were trying to do anything and somebody was driving a nail through your foot," the woman said. "So I decided to look at other options, and I found it. It's not perfect, but it takes enough of the edge off that I can function, mentally and physically."

State legislators listened to stories such as "hers" for years.

"It's still illegal federally!"

Yet, the debate always remained controversial. However, medicinal marijuana, cannabis, became legal in Connecticut earlier this year. The challenge now is how exactly will this all work?

"We are creating a several million dollar industry from scratch," said William Rubenstein.

Rubenstein is the commissioner of the Department of Consumer Protection, the state agency in charge of overseeing the operation. Inside the building, his team has been hammering out minute details of regulations legislators must approve by July 1, 2013.  

"We think we are going to end up, at the end of the day, to have the best programs in the country," Rubenstein said. "At the end of the day, people will want to model their programs after what we do here."

Marijuana will not be grown like tobacco, in large fields that so many are accustomed to seeing here in Connecticut. It will be grown inside, with heavy security. State law says there can no less than three or more than 10 growers in the state. Who that will be, no one knows yet.

As far as distribution, chain pharmacies like CVS or Walgreens will not be the spot for pot. 

Local pharmacies will keep the still unknown forms of marijuana locked tight, serving as dispensaries.  The law allows only 2 1/2 ounces at one time to a patient who registers with the state, which can be done online with doctor's approval.

"I'm up in the air, we're going to look at it, certainly," said Rick Carbray.

The concern to participate or not, says Hamden pharmacist Rick Carbray, comes from Washinton D.C.

"I think the biggest issue for us as pharmacists is the fact that now we have a drug legal in the state of Connecticut, and illegal federally," Carbray said. "So what do you do as a pharmacist when you have a DEA license that you practice under now with narcotics. Is it going to be a problem with the feds coming in and saying, 'We're going to shut you down?'"

"Oh my God, it's amazing," the woman said.

A harmonious life, at last, between pain and peace, may soon benefit others like those currently living in shadows. 

"It was an epiphany, it was like a sacrament to get up in the morning. I get teared up just thinking about it," the woman said.

True, there are still so many unknowns, but that does not darken an outlook to what some have been begging for, for sometime, hope.

"When does life begin? At 60! I've just had such a good time, and you won't find a happier 70-year-old anywhere," the woman said.

Copyright 2014 WTNH TV. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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Connecticut (change)

Connecticut has 169 cities and towns, which serve as the fundamental local political subdivision of the state. Connecticut is the 5th of the original thirteen United States.
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