Start-up companies looking to get in on the state's new medical marijuana industry have been anxiously awaiting a decision by a special legislative committee.
Today, the committee approved the proposal by the Department of Consumer Protection.
State officials said 881 patients statewide have been certified to be able to use medical marijuana.
One West Hartford woman was overjoyed. Tracey Gamer Fanning cried after the committee reached its decision. She was diagnosed with brain cancer in 2006. The only medication that helps relieve her nausea and pain is pot.
"I am so grateful that all the people who were involved said yes today," Fanning said.
The Department of Consumer Protection will begin the process of selecting three to 10 producers, and dispensary facilities, and said they expect to have between three and five, based upon the number of qualifying patients.
About two dozen companies are considering opening growing operations in the state, but can't do anything until they get one of a handful of state-issued licenses.
"I really hope that they do approve these regulations," Erik Williams, the COO of Bitlin Advanced Propagation of New Britain, said.
The new company could employ 150 people but a lot needs to go into the new facility in New Britain including an advanced security system.
"Our facilities are going to be more secure than a casino," Williams said.
Williams hopes to gain a state license to grow pot for medical use.
On Tuesday the state legislature's regulation review committee decided to approve proposed medical marijuana regulations, which include everything from background checks for caregivers to the quantity of active ingredients in a product.
One will be specifically for applicants who seek approval as a producer; the other will be for those who wish to apply for a dispensary facility license.
"They're one of the most thorough, if not the most thorough, set of regulations, proven to be a model across the country," Williams said yesterday.
State Sen. Len Fasano, a Republican, said before the vote that he wanted to ensure that medical marijuana regulations pass federal muster and raised concerns about federal laws versus state law.
State Senator Paul Doyle also had concerns and State .Rep. Vincent Candelora said we are boxing ourselves into a federal conflict.
The commissioner of the Department of Consumer Protection said these are the best thought-out regulations in the country and urged lawmakers to approve them promptly.
Medical marijuana was approved by the state last year with the goal of helping patients who are suffering from debilitating conditions. Williams said what they produce will be safe.
"It's all trackable," he said. "The patients know exactly what they're getting and where it came from."