Story by Ron Lonius at The Smoking Bud
The state of Connecticut, much like how the state of Washington kicked off its cannabis career, put the proverbial cart before the horse and seemingly put no thought into logistics beyond "Hey, let’s open up some dispensaries." Connecticut's medical marijuana (MMJ) program was actually approved back in 2012, however the growing facilities and dispensary sites were not approved until earlier this year. The first batch of legal cannabis and the dispensary that would sell the marijuana, Theraplant in Watertown, CT, just opened not even a full month ago.
All of this delay really comes as no surprise. As the government and each municipality become involved, the layers of "red tape" can become quite thick and projects, especially those in uncharted territory like cannabis use and sales, can easily be bogged down or put on the back burner. If the government doesn't understand it, quite often it is just easier to delay. The problem here is the government of Connecticut has been selling MMJ recommendations to patients and promising them access to quality marijuana since 2013. The price for a MMJ card in Connecticut is already high—$150 for the doctor visit and another $100 to register with the state Department of Consumer Protection (DCP). Many paid this $250 in 2013, but had nowhere to purchase any weed. The commissioner of the DCP was quick to remind those who felt duped that having the card last year offered immunity from arrest to anyone using or possessing marijuana. A novel idea sure, a good comeback to those questioning them, I mean who doesn't want a get out of jail free card, right?
Fast forward to today. Cannabis is finally available at a few locations, kudos for that, but a couple big problems still remain. First off, finding a doctor to obtain certification can be quite a task. Unlike other states, Connecticut has no directory of doctors who will prescribe MMJ. Word of mouth seems to be the best strategy, but if you don't have any friends “in the know," then be prepared to visit a few quacks before gaining certification. Second and most importantly, there is now a growing population of certified MMJ patients and a very low supply of MMJ; in turn, prices in the state have skyrocketed. The average price for an ounce is over $500 in the state right now. In other states (sans New York), the average price for an ounce of some quality marijuana is $300-$350, depending on who you know. Moreover, reports coming out of Connecticut say that the cannabis being sold is of horrible quality, hermed out small buds containing many stems and seeds. One patient stated, "I'm outraged that there are seeds in it." He suspects the whole plant was ground up, stems, seeds and all, and that patients are getting "the hot dog stuff, the scrappings on the floor."
All this refer madness has made many MMJ users take the short trip over to Rhode Island where the plant is still illegal (shame on you, Rhode Island), but what they produce is a whole lot better than what is available at home in Connecticut. Eventually more dispensaries will open up and more grow licenses given out, but someone still needs to know how to grow the stuff right. Maybe they should do like Minnesota and put out an ad looking for the best growers? It definitely wouldn't hurt. After all, do you really want to be known as the state with the highest priced, lowest quality ganja?