Public Health Committee
JOINT FAVORABLE REPORT
AN ACT CONCERNING THE PALLIATIVE USE OF MARIJUANA.
Joint Favorable Substitute
SPONSORS OF BILL:
Public Health Committee
REASONS FOR BILL: Allow children to use medical marijuana for palliative purposes. Additionally it expands the list of medical conditions that can qualify a patient for medical marijuana.
RESPONSE FROM ADMINISTRATION/AGENCY:
Commissioner Raul Pino, M.D., M.P.H., Department of Public Health: Supports this bill as it expands the list of conditions that qualify a patient for medical marijuana and allows patients under 18 to be prescribed medical marijuana with custodial consent. The bill further clarifies that a nurse may administer medical marijuana to a qualifying patient without fear of disciplinary action from the state.
Sen. Toni Boucher: Opposes the bill as it conflict, with federal law which maintains Marijuana as a schedule one controlled substance and because of the negative effects marijuana can still have on developing minors. The use of marijuana to treat specific aliments lacks significant scientific evidence. Therefore prospective patients do not know the risk and benefits of the substance. Until there is greater scientific evidence, the committee should oppose HB-5450.
Michelle Seaguu, Deputy Commissioner of Consumer Protection: In 2012 The Department was tasked with regulating and administering a program that would allow for the use of medical marijuana, while ensuring the laws couldn't be manipulated to enable recreational use. Today the Department is successfully meeting those standards and benefiting thousands of CT residents. The proposed bill will further build on those successes and The Department has worked with the CT chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics to ensure that the language in the bill is sound. The number of physicians registered in CT program has risen from 83 in 2014 to 434 currently. The number of patients enrolled has risen from 1325 in 2014 to 8645 currently. The changes in this bill are not going to alter the direction of the program but rather advance the science behind the program and the product. The bill will simplify the process for licensees to work with and labs and to conduct testing, the Department will be able to provide immunity for research programs that wish to study the effects of medical marijuana on various ailments. The bill also extends immunity to nurses who may have to administer the medication to patients. The bill will make it easier for patients in hospice care to receive medical marijuana by allowing the product to be delivered directly to their location. The bill will allow patients under the age of 18 to use medical marijuana with the consent of their parents and their pediatrician and a doctor specializing in their debilitating illness. The bill will remove restrictive language regarding requirements for the Board of Physicians.
NATURE AND SOURCES OF SUPPORT:
Ethan Ruby, Founder and CEO of Theraplant: is one of the states 4 licensed medical marijuana producers under the Department of Consumer Protection. Currently medical marijuana producers are unable to do research alongside hospitals, universities and hospice facilities. Passage of the bill will do more to help find cures and relief for those suffering from debilitating conditions by allowing producers to aide in research. As a result we can improve the quality of life for thousands, create hundreds of jobs while bringing in millions in revenue.
Margherita Giuliano, Executive Vice President of the Connecticut Pharmacists Association: Supports the recommended changes in the bill, as this bill will go a long way toward increasing treatment options for various conditions and increasing quality of life.The CCP also applauds the committee for adopting language that will allow marijuana to be used in end of life care and for research purposes.
Melissa J. Schlag: Urges the committee to expand this legislation to include three items; expand the program to patient children who attend school through a nurse program, reduce the cost on families, and allow legal cultivation at home for patients.
William Zempsky, MD, MPH, Head of the Division of Pain and Palliative Medicine at Connecticut Children's Medical Center: Suggest that the committee add chemotherapy induced nausea and cancer-related pain in patients who are minors to the definition of “Debilitating medical condition”.
Kim Hearn: 10 year old son suffers from Lennox Gastaut Syndrome causing him to experience as many 50 seizures per day. Despite the numerous doctors' visits and consultations she has exhausted all of her medical options to treat his seizures. Although she is uncertain about whether she will treat Sean with cannabis oil, she urges the committee to pass the bill and give families in similar situations greater access and ability to treatment, such as cannabis oil.
Sandi Carbonari, American Academy of Pediatrics: Supports this bill as written. The Academy acknowledges the potential of medical marijuana in treating minors with terminal illnesses or debilitating conditions like seizures. The Academy supports strongly the research and development portion of this bill that will allow academics to further study the benefits of medical marijuana. The Academy supports board certified pediatricians to be on the broad of Physicians that will help to review additions of new conditions qualifying for medical marijuana.
The following individuals have submitted testimony in support of Kim Hearn and her Son Sean:
Anne Coffin Finsterbusch
These individuals support the bill as it will give patients and their families an alternative to traditional treatment option. The passage of this bill will ensure that parents are properly educated on how to administer marijuana to children and offer them a clear support system. Often time's medical marijuana is the last treatment option available and can yield the most meaningful results in reducing or eliminating seizure's altogether In children:
Christina E. Capitan
Dana E. Haddox-Wright
Peter S. Shiue
Robert A. Fiore, President of CT Epilepsy Advocate
Sara (last name not provided)
Jeanette B. Fritscher
Daine Tarricone: Daughter West suffers from West Syndrome which causes her to have thousands of seizure's per day. Despite numerous medications and treatments conventional medicine has failed to help to control West seizures. The only treatment that has shown any real results is the use of medical cannabis. There are numerous success stories of how medical marijuana help to reinvigorate the lives of previously debilitated children.
The following individuals have submitted testimony in support of Daine and West Tarricone:
John and Lyn Johnson
NATURE AND SOURCES OF OPPOSITION:
Frank Castiglione, M.D.: The bill allows a medical board to add debilitating medical conditions but not given the ability to remove conditions that are deemed no longer applicable. Takes issues with placing oversight and definitions of portions of medical practice, under the Department of Consumer Protection and not the Department of Public Health. This will duplicate and fracture the governance of medical practice. Lastly the continued inclusion of glaucoma as debilitating is erroneous. Glaucoma is not responsive to palliative marijuana.
Mary Jane Williams PhD, RN, Connecticut Nurses Association: Has grave concerns with the bill as it is currently. Nurses under this bill are given legal protection under CT state law with regards to administering medical marijuana however; the use of marijuana is still against federal law. It is possibly the federal government could prosecute nurses that administer medical marijuana. The CNA asks that this information be shared with providers who could be held liable and that nurses are recommended to carry appropriate malpractice insurance.
Reported by: Walter L. Morton IV