Connecticut

Connecticut: Hartford City Council Unanimously Endorses Marijuana Legalization

Cannabis Hartford

Resolution urges support for legislation that would regulate and tax marijuana for adults in Connecticut

By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

HARTFORD, Conn. — At a meeting Monday evening, the Hartford Court of Common Council voted unanimously in favor of a resolution in support of making cannabis legal and regulated for adults in Connecticut.

The resolution specifically recommends that the Hartford Delegation of elected representatives support the passage of state legislation to legalize and tax cannabis in 2018 and insist on measures to ensure racial equity in ownership and employment in the resulting cannabis industry. It also directs the city to conduct an economic impact study for a potential cannabis industry in Hartford and hold public forums to hear from residents.

Connecticut: After Partisan Feud, Recreational Cannabis Bill Tabled Without a Vote

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In Connecticut, the legislature’s nonpartisan Office of Fiscal Analysis estimated the state could raise $61 million per year under this proposal, beginning in the 2018-19 fiscal year

By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

Last Tuesday, the Connecticut House of Representatives debated the legalization of recreational cannabis use for 90 minutes without a vote. The bipartisan debate had heated dialogue as lawmakers argued the bill.

“We’re going to get left behind,” Rep. Melissa Ziobron, R-East Haddam said, noting that nine states currently have legalized marijuana and several others have debated such action in recent years.

Rhode Island: Legalizing And Regulating Marijuana Would Yield Nearly $50 Million In New Tax Revenue

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

According to a report issued this week by the advocacy coalition Regulate Rhode Island, legalizing, regulating, and taxing the state's marijuana market would result in the generation of nearly $50 million in new annual tax revenue.

Commercial sales of cannabis are estimated to reach $161 million by 2020, according to the report. Taxing this retail market at rates comparable to those in Colorado or Washington would yield $48.3 million per year.

The Adult Use of Cannabis act is legislation pending in the Rhode Island House and Senate to regulate the commercial production and sale of marijuana to adults. Connecticut has similar legislation pending.

Similar legislation was approved by voters in Massachusetts in November.

Connecticut: Marijuana Legalization Hearing Draws Conflicting Testimony

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

A hearing on legalizing marijuana for adults in Connecticut Wednesday produced plenty of conflicting testimony about risks and benefits associated with the plant. Topics of concern ranged from health concerns to the state's need for tax revenue.

Very different attitudes toward recreational marijuana were expressed by members of the General Assembly's judiciary committee. Some lawmakers opposed cannabis legalization, while some strongly supported it.

Supporters of marijuana legalization argued that the plant is less addictive than alcohol or nicotine, and that millions of dollars of illegal cannabis is currently being sold in Connecticut every year. Marijuana legalization "would take control of the marijuana market out of the hands of drug dealers," said Joseph LaChance, a medical marijuana patient from Milford.

Martin M. Looney, the Senate's top Democratic leader, testified that prohibiting marijuana use in Connecticut has been as ineffective as alcohol Prohibition was in the 1920s and 1930s.

Looney and others argued that the tax revenue generated by legal marijuana sales could help solve Connecticut's fiscal crisis. Currently, medical marijuana can be sold to patients with a few certain qualifying conditions in Connecticut, but the sales are not taxed.

Connecticut: Lawmakers Debate Legalizing Recreational Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Connecticut lawmakers debated Tuesday on recreational marijuana legalization, and found only disagreement.

“It is time to consider legalizing marijuana for adults,” said State Rep Melissa Ziobron, R-East Haddam, and sponsor of a bill to legalize recreational use during testimony before the General Assembly public health committee.

“I realize this is a difficult issue for many,” Ziobron said. “But legal marijuana is safer than alcohol and tobacco. Marijuana has never caused a fatal overdose in the 7,000 years of reported human use.”

Carolyn Dennis of Milford told the committee she opposes legalizing marijuana, especially under the guise of raising revenue.

"Do not threaten our state’s future by endangering the future welfare of our citizens’ health for a dollar,” Dennis said. “I expect that unlike the supporters of this proposed bill, you will not let budget woes take a front seat over the health of the residents and workers, children and adults in the state.”

Massachusetts and Maine voters last year authorized recreational use and the sale of weed is expected to begin next year. Weed is also legal for recreational use in Colorado, Washington, Alaska, California, Nevada and Oregon.

Minnesota: PTSD Added to List of Qualifying Conditions For Medical Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

The Minnesota Department of Health is adding post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to its list of conditions that can qualify patients for medical marijuana.

Minnesota now joins New Jersey, Michigan, California, Illinois, Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, New Mexico, Arizona, Washington, Rhode Island and Oregon as states that allow those with PTSD to legally use medical cannabis.

A large amount of research has led to the conclusion that medical marijuana can be useful for "innovative intervention strategies (e.g. pharmacological enhancement of exposure-based therapy) in PTSD and other fear learning-related disorders,” according to a government-funded study released in 2014.

Another study released in 2015 found that; “When inhaled or delivered orally or transdermally, cannabinoids (the psychoactive components of unrefined marijuana and various derivative products) activate endogenous cannabinoid receptors, modulating neurotransmitter release and producing a wide range of central nervous system effects, including increased pleasure and alteration of memory processes…. Those effects provide a pharmacologic rationale for the use of cannabinoids to manage the three core PTSD symptom clusters: reexperiencing, avoidance and numbing, and hyperarousal.”

Connecticut: Minors Can Now Become Medical Marijuana Patients

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Connecticut House Bill 5450, signed into law by Governor Dannel P. Malloy earlier this year, is now in full effect. This means that those under 18 with certain qualifying conditions can legally use medical marijuana if they receive a recommendation from a physician. Nurses are also now authorized to recommend medical marijuana to both adults and minors. Previously that authority was exclusive to physicians.

The new law was approved 152 to 24 by the state’s legislature. It means that children with a wide variety of ailments would be allowed to use non-smokeable forms of cannabis, such as tinctures, for medical use, so long as the minor has approval from their parent or guardian and receives a recommendation from a physician or registered nurse (under current Connecticut law medical cannabis is already legal for those 18 and older).

Qualifying conditions include terminal illness, cystic fibrosis, cerebral palsy, irreversible spinal cord injury with intractable spasticity, severe epilepsy and intractable seizure disorders.

“We introduced this bill to support those who need it – this is a deeply emotional issue for many families,” says Chris Collibee, a spokesperson for Governor Malloy. “Delivering access to ease illness is something many states have passed. It’s the right thing to do.”

Connecticut: Authorities Seize Alligator From Marijuana Grow House

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Authorities in Connecticut arrested a man and charged him with possession of two things deemed illegal in the state -- marijuana and an alligator.

The Connecticut State Environmental Police said in a Facebook post that officers had conducted a search at the New Hartford home of Jake Ouellette after receiving a tip from his landlord that he was keeping an illegal reptile in his home.

Police obtained a search warrant after learning that Ouellette had warrants for his arrest in Connecticut and Florida. In addition to the two-foot long American alligator police found a marijuana grow operation.

"Numerous marijuana plants, seeds, rolled joints, hash oil, e-cigarettes containing hash oil with USB adapters, packaging materials and equipment, drug paraphernalia and interior growing equipment including seed starter kits, sheets of foil, fertilizer and log books containing transactions and various species of marijuana were all within plain view throughout the apartment," environmental police wrote.

Ouellette was arrested July 27 at his job and charged with possession of over 4 ounces of marijuana with intent to sell, possession of drug paraphernalia with intent to sell, and manufacturing of marijuana, and illegal possession of an American alligator.

Georgia: Dead Man Leads Police To $12 Million Marijuana Stash

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Police were led to a $12 million marijuana stash in Gwinnett County, Georgia Monday by a dead man.

Gwinnett County police spokeswoman Cpl. Michele Pihera said officers responded to a 911 call that reported "a man slumped over near a white van" at a storage yard near Norcross. The man was dead, apparently from natural causes. He was later identified as 31-year-old Connecticut resident Johnny Taylor.

Officers "looking around the scene for signs of foul play" soon "noticed a very faint smell of suspected marijuana coming from inside the van." K9s called to the scene didn't detect anything, but a box inside the van was eventually opened — and a large amount of marijuana was discovered inside, sealed in bags.

Similar boxes were found inside the tractor-trailer.

"After a search warrant was obtained," Pihera said in a news release, "several hundred pounds of marijuana were seized. The street value is approximately $12 million." An exact number was not released, but Pihera said more than 500 pounds of pot were recovered.

Police said there were no sign of trauma to Taylor's body and believe he died of natural causes. Security footage shows him pulling up in the van around 9:30 p.m. Sunday, just minutes after another man pulled up in the tractor trailor and left in a gold Toyota Camry.

Massachusetts: Federal Prison Sentence For Southwick Man Busted With 111 Pounds Of Pot, $1 Million In Cash

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

In 2014, federal and local investigators discovered a stash with 111 pounds of marijuana and just over $1 million in cash in an "Uncle Bob's" storage unit in Agawam, Massachusetts. The find resulted in a sentence Thursday for Connor Cipolla, 31, for one year and one day in a federal prison camp, handed down by U.S. District Court Judge Mark Mastroianni.

With good behavior, that should shake out to 10 months behind bars under federal sentencing guidelines.

Investigators stumbled across the stash of contraband when they went to the site to investigate two unrelated subjects. Cipolla sped off in his car when he saw the police cars, leading them on a high-speed chase through Agawam, Southwick, and across the Connecticut border.

Police finally found the car abandoned in a nature preserve in Suffield. Cipolla had fled through the woods on foot.

Investigators obtained a search warrant for the storage unit and found a "massive" amount of drugs and money stacked up inside, Assistant U.S. Attorney Deepika Shukla said during Cipolla's sentencing hearing in U.S. District Court.

"I think pictures lend some insight to the court," the prosecutor told Mastroianni. "Because of the colossal amount of cash found."

U.S.: Hemp Industry Generates Half a Billion Dollars In Sales

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

The hemp industry netted half a billion dollars in sales in the United States last year, despite unconstitutional federal restrictions on industrial hemp farming.

As reported in The Weed Blog:

"The Hemp Industries Association (HIA), a non-profit trade association consisting of hundreds of hemp businesses, has released final estimates of the size of the 2015 U.S. retail market for hemp products. Data from market research supports an estimate of total retail sales of hemp food, supplements and body care products in the United States at $283 million….The HIA has also reviewed sales of clothing, auto parts, building materials and various other products, and estimates the total retail value of hemp products sold in the U.S. in 2015 to be at least $573 million."

Eric Steentres, executive director of the Hemp Industries Association, says the next step is very obvious.

“We need Congress to pass federal legislation to allow commercial hemp farming nationally, for this ripe industry to finally be able to bloom,” he said.

But congressional action seems unlikely anytime soon.

It is technically "legal" to grow hemp, but farmers are required to obtain a permit from the DEA. That happened just once in four decades up until 2014. Since then some states have taken action to nullify the federal regulation.

Connecticut, Maine: New Laws Permit Medical Marijuana In Hospitals

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

New laws in Connecticut and Maine allow the use of medical marijuana formulations by patients who are hospitalized.

This week, Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy signed legislation, HB 5450, to protect nurses who administer medical marijuana to qualified patients in hospitals from any civil, criminal, or disciplinary action. Other provisions in the bill would expand access to medical marijuana to those under the age of 18 and seek to establish a state-sponsored research program.

Maine's Governor Paul LePage signed LD 426 into law recently which also protects hospital administrators and staff from civil or criminal liability if they permit qualified to use non-inhaled forms of medical marijuana in hospitals. The patients would not necessarily be provided or administered medical marijuana under the law, but could receive marijuana products from a third party.

Connecticut and Maine are the first states to specifically provide immunity to hospitals that permit patients to use medical marijuana.

Connecticut: 4 Teens Hospitalized After Eating Brownies Made With 'Synthetic Marijuana'

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Four teens in Danbury, Connecticut were hospitalized after eating brownies they thought were made with marijuana, but they may have really been laced with 'synthetic marijuana'.

Police questioned the student who sold the brownies at Henry Abbott Technical School in Danbury.

The American Association of Poison Control says that 'synthetic marijuana is extremely different from actual marijuana because it is laced with powerful unregulated chemicals incorrectly referred to as "cannabimimetics." The marijuana industry has denounced synthetic products having any kind of association with the marijuana plant.

Having names like Spice, No More Mr. Nice Guy,or K2, the products are nothing more than dried leaves (such as oregano) sprayed with chemicals designed for extensive abuse. Synthetic drugs manufactured in China and distributed through the internet and head shops have become a growing problem in schools across the country. We'll have more on this story as it develops.

Connecticut Lawmakers Push To Legalize Pot

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Lawmakers in Connecticut yesterday filed a bill which would legalize recreational marijuana use by adults over 21. The proposed bill would open the door for Connecticut to join several other New England states considering full-scale legalization this year.

Massachusetts voters will have the opportunity in November to vote for cannabis legalization. Vermont's Gov. Peter Schumlin introduced a legalization plan in a recent address. Lawmakers in Rhode Island are proposing a bill in their state this year for legalization.

Colorado, Washington, Alaska, Oregon and Washington, DC have already succeeded in legalizing recreational marijuana through ballot measures.

Quoted in the Hartford Courant, Rep. Juan Candelaria, a Democrat, said "I'm going to be pushing very hard. I'm going to be engaging my leadership in conversation to at least allow a public hearing."

Candelaria was joined by nine other Democratic lawmakers from across the state in filing the bill. Some conditions included in the bill would require child-safe packaging and a ban on public use.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, a Democrat, signed a bill to allow physicians to prescribe medical marijuana in 2012, but was not so receptive to the proposed new bill. "That's as far as I'm comfortable going," he said yesterday when asked about it. "Malloy said. "But certainly every member of the legislature is entitled to their own opinion. We'll see what happens.
It's not my proposal."

U.S.: Compass Diversified Holdings Acquires Manitoba Harvest Hemp Foods

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Compass Diversified Holdings, a Westport, Connecticut-based owner of middle market businesses, on Monday announced that on June 4, it entered into an agreement to acquire Fresh Hemp Foods Ltd. ("Manitoba Harvest"). The acquisition is expected to close in the next 45 days, subject to customary closing conditions.

Headquartered in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, Manitoba Harvest is a pioneer and global leader in branded, hemp-based foods. The company's products are the fastest growing in the hemp food market and among the fastest growing in the natural foods industry.

Manitoba Harvest's award-winning products are currently carried in about 7,000 retail stores across the U.S. and Canada. For the year ended November 30, 2014, Manitoba Harvest reported net revenue of approximately C$37.9 million, an increase of 23.9 percent year-over-year. The company continued its rapid growth in the first half of its current fiscal year, generating net revenue of approximately C$27.6 million for the six months ended May 31, 2015.

The purchase price for Manitoba Harvest is based on a total enterprise value of C$132.5 million and will also include working capital and certain other adjustments upon closing. Manitoba Harvest generated net revenues of approximately C$44.9 million and Adjusted EBITDA of approximately C$6.4 million for the last twelve months ending May 31, 2015, representing year-over-year growth of 28.5 percent and 59.4 percent, respectively. The company generated Adjusted EBITDA for the six months ended May 31, 2015 of approximately C$5.0 million.

Connecticut: Panel Recommends Medical Marijuana For ALS, Ulcerative Colitis

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A board of physicians on Wednesday recommended adding Lou Gehrig's disease and ulcerative colitis to the list of conditions eligible for treatment with medical marijuana in Connecticut.

The Medical Marijuana Program Board of Physicians voted 3-1 to recommend including amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease) and ulcerative colitis, but they split 2-2 on including Fabry disease, reports Matthew Sturdevant at the Hartford Courant.

Consumer protection Commissioner Jonathan A. Harris will review the board's recommendations and make the final decision.

"The commissioner may choose to accept or reject any or all of the board's recommendations with regard to choosing to promulgate a regulation to add any condition," said Claudette Carveth, spokeswoman for the Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection.

Any change to the program is also subject to a process that includes a hearing and public comments, review by the state Attorney General, and a vote by the General Assembly's regulation review committee.

Connecticut: Court Ruling Clears Way For Past Marijuana Convictions To Be Erased

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Thousands of state residents who have been busted for marijuana possession in the past now have the right to get their convictions erased after the Connecticut Supreme Court on Monday ruled that the violation had been downgraded to the same level as a parking ticket.

The unanimous 7-0 ruling came in the case of Nicholas Menditto, 31, a former resident of Manchester and Boston who had asked for his convictions to be overturned after the Connecticut Legislature in 2011 decriminalized possession of small amounts of cannabis, reports Dave Collins at the Associated Press.

"It's a topic multiple states will have to be facing," said Menditto's attorney, Aaron Romano. "Because marijuana is being decriminalized across the United States, this issue needs to be addressed."

Last year, Colorado's second-highest court ruled that some people who have been convicted of possessing small amounts of pot can ask for those convictions to be thrown out under the state law which legalized recreational marijuana.

In 2011, Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and the Legislature changed possession of less than half an ounce of cannabis from a misdemeanor, with potential jail time, to a violation with a $150 fine for a first offense and $200 to $500 for subsequent offenses.

Connecticut: First Medical Marijuana Dispensary In State Opens

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Connecticut's first medical marijuana dispensary opened on Wednesday night in South Windsor, and the state's other five dispensaries reportedly won't be far behind.

The grand opening of Prime Wellness of Connecticut gave potential patients and the public a chance to see the facilities, meet pharmacists and growers, and get information, reports Amanda Cuda at Ctpost.com. There's just one thing, though: The dispensary won't have any actual marijuana until next month, though staff members have been consulting with patients since last week, according to Director of Operations Brett Sicklick.

"I think people have been really shocked and surprised when the enter the facility for the first time," Sicklick said. "We really took as much of a medical approach as we possibly could."

Prime Wellness is one of six dispensaries in Connecticut approved for a license from the state Department of Consumer Protection. The others are in Hartford, Branford, Bethel, Uncasville and Bristol. Sicklick said Prime Wellness will serve patients from all over the state.

Some patients have already been registered for about two years, according to Sicklick, and are looking forward to finally receiving treatment through the dispensary. He said the shop expects from 200 to 300 patients seeking marijuana when the medicine arrives.

Connecticut: Medical Marijuana Legal For Two Years, But Still None For Sale

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Connecticut's law allowing the sale of marijuana for medical purposes was passed two years ago, but there is still no medicinal cannabis legally for sale in the state.

Prospective owners have found it challenging to locate dispensary locations without raising the ire of towns and cities, reports Joseph Berger at The New York Times. Fairfield and West Haven have zoned such businesses out of existence; other towns, including Madison, New Canaan and Westport, have moratoriums in place while their zoning rules are reviewed. This month, the Bridgeport zoning board turned down a licensee.

Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy signed the law in May 2012; it requires that pharmacists dispense medical marijuana, and limits the list of qualifying ailments. Four growers and six dispensaries have been licensed so far.

But those who want to open dispensaries are running into uninformed opposition from superstitious residents who think having a marijuana dispensary nearby would somehow "hurt their children," invite black markets (as if they aren't already there), or lower property values (which is certainly a backwards way of looking at potential conomic growth, if you ask us).

Connecticut: Six Dispensary Sites Approved For Medical Marijuana Sales

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Connecticut on Thursday awarded licenses for six medical marijuana dispensaries, chosen from 27 applications, and said that the dispensaries will be up and running by summer.

The state licensed dispensaries in Branford, Bridgeport, Bristol, Hartford, Montville and South Windsor, reports William Weir at the Hartford Courant.

Two of the dispensary owners on Thursday said that their opening dates will depend mainly upon when Connecticut's four licensed medicinal cannabis growers will have marijuana ready for sale.

The six businesses are:

• Arrow Alternative Care Inc., 92 Weston St., Hartford

• Bluepoint Apothecary LLC, 469 E. Main St., Branford

• D&B Wellness LLC, 2181 Main St., Bridgeport

• Prime Wellness of Connecticut LLC, 75 John Fitch Boulevard, South Windsor

• Thames Valley Apothecary LLC, 1100 Norwich-New London Turnpike (Route 32), Uncasville section, Montville

• The Healing Corner Inc., 159 E. Main St., Bristol

Prime Wellness in South Windsor should have products on the shelf and ready to sell by "late summer," according to CEO Thomas Nicholas, a former registered nurse who worked in Hartford Hospital operating rooms, then became a medical supplies salesman in the 1980s and went on to operate five dialysis centers.

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