Understanding new medical marijuana laws

Marijuana plant (file)

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — Connecticut doctors and pharmacists are getting a lesson in marijuana. The first Medical Cannabis Symposium is designed to help medical professionals understand how pot can help treat health problems.

The use of medical marijuana was approved in Connecticut two years ago. Dispensing it to patients is still a work in progress.

“Nothing has really been ever promoted as far as using it medically,” pharmacist Nicole Liedke said.

Pharmacists and doctors will be on the front lines of it all, and many of them gathered at the Aqua Turf in Southington Wednesday to learn about the medicinal use of cannabis, and what they need to know when consulting patients.

“This is a new drug, a new regiment within their regimen,” Pharmacist Angelo Defazio said. “They have a lot of co-morbidities. They have a lot of different medications that they take. The pharmacists’ role is so important. This is what we do everyday, now bringing in a specialized medicine.”

That patient/pharmacist interaction is key, says Liedke. “Especially with these people’s disease states that they are seeking the marijuana for, they are on other medications as well so we need to consider interactions.”

Medical marijuana has been approved for patients suffering from nearly a dozen different illnesses including cancer, glaucoma, Multiple Sclerosis and Parkinson’s Disease.

Patients will get the marijuana from one of six dispenseries in the state. They are expected to open in the late summer through the early fall.

“The way Connecticut has been structured is that it has to be dispensed by a pharmacists,” said Angela D’Amico, co-founder of D&B Wellness. “A pharmacist will be on staff all hours of open operation.”

Before going to those dispenseries, patients must get approval to use medical marijuana from their doctor.

The state’s six marijuana dispensaries will be located in:

  • Branford
  • Bridgeport
  • Bristol
  • Hartford
  • South Windsor
  • Uncasville.

The symposium was sponsored by the Connecticut Pharmacists Association.

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