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Conn. medical marijuana business group discussed

Associated Press Modified: November 20, 2012 at 1:01 pm •  Published: November 20, 2012

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Advocates of Connecticut's new medical marijuana law are reaching out to entrepreneurs interested in growing, dispensing and starting related businesses, gauging the interest level for starting a new medical marijuana business organization.

About a dozen people, including some state Capitol lobbyists, turned out Tuesday at the Legislative Office Building for an organizational meeting of the proposed Connecticut Medical Cannabis Business Alliance, a concept modeled after a similar group in Colorado.

Eileen Konieczny, a registered nurse and medical marijuana consultant from Stamford, said she believes an alliance of medical marijuana businesses can help to educate Connecticut patients, doctors and the public about the benefits of the drug and the different forms of marijuana that can be used, ultimately combatting the stigma of pot smoking.

"The hardest thing I find now is, nobody wants to talk about it here on the East Coast. Everybody is afraid of it," she said. "I've talked to more than one person who didn't even know what cannabis was until I said marijuana, and then you get the giggles and the snickers. Meanwhile, this is very serious to me. It's a really safe alternative to so many different things."

As of Oct. 1, Connecticut patients suffering from certain debilitating medical conditions, such as AIDS and cancer, can apply to the Department of Consumer Protection for a temporary registration certificate, allowing them to legally use marijuana now for medical purposes, even though they still have to obtain the drug on the black market. Erik Williams, executive director of the pro-marijuana Connecticut NORML, said only 43 people have signed up so far, but he expects the number to climb once the entire program, including growing and dispensing operations, is up-and-running sometime late next year.

He predicted there could be 3,000 to 9,000 patients registered in the first year.

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