Congressman hopes to ease federal restrictions on medical marijuana

Tens of thousands of people are getting relief through medical marijuana in Connecticut.

In the state, users must have a doctor’s prescription and be registered to visit one of the medical marijuana dispensaries.

CT Congressman Joe Courtney (D) took a tour of a dispensary on Monday, and said he’s hoping to ease federal restrictions.

“There’s a bill in Washington called the Safe Act, which would basically take marijuana off schedule, one for the purposes of financial services, period,” Courtney said.

The Thames Valley Relief Medical Marijuana dispensary in Uncasville has 5,200 clients, and many said they’re grateful for the natural relief that the prescription brings.

There are 300-400 customers or registered clients who visit that dispensary per day.

It’s one of nine dispensaries running statewide with nine more hoping to open.

They provide various forms of medical marijuana relief to the 34,000 people already registered statewide.

“A lot of pain conditions are people with MS, post laminectomy syndrome, people who have had back surgeries, basically,” said Laurie Zendan , dispensary manager.

Congressman Courtney said he hopes to make dispensaries like this legal for the banking industry to be able to handle money from what is an illegal industry in the eyes of the federal government.

A bill now before Congress would “eliminate the regulatory controls and administrative, civil and criminal penalties under the controlled substances act for producing, processing, distributing, dispensing, administering, testing, recommending or delivering medical marijuana in compliance with state law.”

The proposed bill would also “Establishes a new separate registration process to facilitate medical marijuana research and authorizes health care providers employed by the department of veterans affairs to make recommendations to veterans regarding participation in state marijuana programs.”

“In my opinion I think it would be better for people to be able to have the marijuana to soothe their pain,” said Crystal Wright, of Norwich.

Courtney also spoke with clients and others about making medical marijuana legal nationwide, helping the 7 million veterans and more.

“This makes me feel like I can be a productive member of society,” said Shane Divita , of Old Lyme.