Every week, 100 new Connecticut consumers turn to marijuana for treatment and the industry is growing exponentially, with more barriers being broken down to widen its scope of medicinal use.
Medical marijuana in Connecticut has only been attainable for about a year and a half, which gave researchers plenty of time to study the pitfalls in other states and allow them to come up with a process that works.
The role the state has taken in this industry is already setting standards and the inside of the dispensary is not what most people think.
Most patients receiving medicinal marijuana aren't walking out of dispensaries with little baggies filled with pot. They're walking into a secure facility, employed with pharmaceutical professionals trained to conduct medication therapy.
“We have a very strict gatekeeping pharmaceutical type model that employs a pharmacist, a health care professional, a physician and a patient. That paradigm of the three p's hasn't been broken in our state,” said Angelo DeFazio, owner of Arrow Alternative Care, in Hartford.
It’s broken down like this:
The physician evaluates the patient and decides whether the illness warrants a marijuana certification. With that approval, the patient can then apply for a card and, if approved, will undergo a screening process with the dispensary to determine what form of marijuana best suits their needs, and how much. Once they receive their card, they can purchase up to 2.5 ounces of product per month.
The marijuana comes in the form of flower, pills, oils, baked good and even honey.
Military veteran, Roger Frez, ditched his prescription pills for oils to treat his sudden episodes associated with post-traumatic stress disorder.
“The narcotics, they kind of just bring you down, made you sleepy and you slur your words. I can function much better on marijuana,” Frez said.
He's one of 8,600 patients in the state, a number expected to almost double by the end of this year.
On Tuesday, six new conditions, including several forms of pain, were added to the 11 already in existence
“In our state our disease states are specific and if pain is associated with them, it’s covered and I think that that's the right process to take,” DeFazio said.
“Where I think Connecticut is failing right now is we don't put research and development and testing into the product to make sure, like other drugs, that the person ingesting it is being properly treated for the disease with that drug,” said Vincent Candelora, deputy leader of the House (R).
Candelora was initially opposed to the idea, but says he sees the opportunity it poses for Connecticut to be the frontrunner in medical breakthroughs.
One of the biggest cons consumers have voiced concerns about is the pricing. Because it’s not covered under health insurance, the product can be pricey, depending on how much you buy and how often. However, there are no plans right now for health insurance plans to cover medical marijuana.