Later this summer, medical marijuana will become legally available to patients in Connecticut.
Though other states have gone further and legalized its recreational usage, William Rubenstein, Commissioner of the Department of Consumer Protection, said that Connecticut’s approach has been to treat medical marijuana like any other controlled pharmaceutical substance.
"[There's] a strong role for physicians in determining which patients should have access to the product," Rubenstein said on WNPR's Where We Live, "treating the growers and producers like pharmaceutical manufacturers, and having the product dispensed by licensed pharmacists."
Doctors will certify patients as having one of eleven specific medical conditions like cancer, HIV/AIDS, or Parkinson's Disease. Patients will have to register with the Department of Consumer Protection, then medical marijuana will be dispensed to them by licensed pharmacists.
WBUR health reporter Martha Bebinger, speaking on Where We Live, called it a new frontier. "Even though laws have been approved in 23 states now," she said, "everybody has a sense that they're taking the first step in their territory -- whether it's the regulators, the dispensaries, the patients, [or] the doctors."
Commissioner Rubenstein admitted that it has been a challenge to start the new industry from scratch in Connecticut. Now, with four licensed producers and six dispensary facilities, medical marijuana should begin to become available by the end of the summer.