Connecticut medical marijuana law includes safeguards for pharmacists

June 15, 2012

Connecticut's recently enacted law legalizing medical marijuana includes language ensuring that pharmacists who follow state law will be protected from prosecution

The law that the State of Connecticut passed in May legalizing medical marijuana contains strict guidelines, including the requirement that the dispensaries be owned or run by licensed pharmacists.

The new law allows only state-registered patients or their caregivers to obtain marijuana from dispensaries, which would acquire marijuana from licensed producers. Notably, dispensaries must be run or owned by pharmacists, who would input marijuana data into the state's Prescription Monitoring Program.

The resulting regulations will be stricter than those of other states, such as California and Colorado, which have had medical marijuana laws in place for a few years.

"We don't want Connecticut to follow the path pursued by some other states, which essentially would legalize marijuana for anyone willing to find the right doctor and get the right prescription. Under this proposal . . . the Department of Consumer Protection will be able to carefully regulate and monitor the medicinal use of this drug," Connecticut Governor Dannel P. Malloy said in a statement.

The CPA supported the legislation because its language included several safeguards to prevent abuse and protect pharmacists. "If it was going to happen, we wanted to make sure we had input into it," Giuliano said.

The CPA urged legislators to include language protecting pharmacists from liability. "It is critical to include language similar to that used for physicians, that 'no pharmacist shall be subject to arrest or prosecution for following state law,'" a CPA statement emphasized. In the end, the Connecticut legislature included language protecting pharmacists from prosecution.

CPA executives plan to participate as the state's Department of Consumer Protection drafts language implementing the law, which could take nine months, Giuliano said. In addition, pharmacists who want to dispense medical marijuana must be protected.

"We are trying to make sure that the pharmacy and the pharmacist do not put their prescription business at risk by having a dispensary. We want everybody to understand fully what this involves from a critical and legal perspective, and what their risks might be," Giuliano said.