Medical Marijuana Legislation Update
Dear CT-AAP Member, 
You may have heard that the CT State Legislature passed a bill this year allowing children to have access to medical marijuana. We wanted to be sure that you, as a member of the CT-AAP had the explanation as to why the CT-American Academy of Pediatrics did, in fact,  support the bill. 
The CTAAP faced a dilemma on this issue. Last year, a bill came out that allowed child access to medical marijuana for all of the same conditions as adults (PTSD, chronic pain, severe psoriasis, etc.). We completely opposed that bill, and worked hard to kill it. Department of Consumer Protection, the proponents of the bill, refused to work anything out WITH US or to understand the dangers associated with this drug and children.
During the year when the legislature was not in session, the CTAAP (including the CTAAP board of directors, Dr Sheryl Ryan, who wrote the AAP policy statement, Dr. Bill Zempsky, from CCMC Pain and Palliative Medicine Dept, and CCMC pediatric neurologists) worked with DCP and the Governor's office to make the bill workable.
We heard from parents of kids who have intractable seizure disorders and some whose children were terminally ill, and they have a very compelling argument for having access to the drug. There was a public hearing, and it was overwhelming to see these children and their parents who have no where else to turn. 
We reached a compromise. Here are the terms:
  • No smokable marijuana for patients under 18
  • Child must have his/her (1) primary care physician/APRN and (2) physician who cares for the condition that child has sign a certifying letter saying the child may benefit from medical marijuana
  • Parent/Guardian must approve
  • There is a board of physicians who approve/disapprove of any new conditions. Any new conditions that may come in front of the board of physicians for children's use must consider the brain development of a child
  • The Board of physicians will have at least one pediatrician on it who the CTAAP recommends (We already have physicians who have expressed interest for this committee) 
Conditions that are allowed for children's use of medical marijuana are:
  • A terminal illness that requires end-of-life care
  • An irreversible spinal cord injury with objective neurological indication of intractable spasticity
  • Severe cerebral palsy
  • Severe cystic fibrosis
  • Severe epilepsy or uncontrolled intractable seizure disorder
We believe this is the best compromise. We were worried that if we completely opposed the bill again, we would face the possibility that children would have much greater access to marijuana, and we would have little control on future conditions. 
Remember, this bill does not mandate any physician prescribe medical marijuana to patients under 18. We feel with the conditions we have placed on the access, there will be very few children having access to the marijuana.
We are very happy to have a discussion with anyone who would like to understand our perspective further.

Anton Alerte, MD
CT Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics

Jillian G. Wood
Executive Director
CT Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics

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