Connecticut Looks At Medical Marijuana For Kids

Mar 16, 2015

A vial of medical marijuana.
Credit William Casey / AP Images

Andrea Rupert's 18-year-old son Holden has severe epilepsy. It's hard for him to get through the day without seizures, she says. But when he has marijuana, he's a different person.

"The medical marijuana has given my son a second chance at life," Andrea said at a public hearing of the Connecticut Legislature's Judiciary Committee Friday. Holden sat quietly at her side.

"It's because of the medical marijuana that he can even just sit here and be with me," she said. "He can ride in a car with me. He can look at the mountains. Actually, he can say, 'Hi, Holden,' and 'Do I love.' And we're hoping that we can get him much farther along in his development, and much farther back to who he was.'"

Holden took medical marijuana when he lived in Massachusetts, but when he moved to Connecticut, Andrea wasn't able to get it for him.

Medical marijuana has been legal in Connecticut since 2012, but not for those under 18. A bill in the state legislature would change that, and ease some other restrictions on medical marijuana, too. Some lawmakers said they could understand why parents would testify in support of that bill.

"I've always said, if it was my kid, I wouldn't care. I'm gonna do something," said State Senator John Kissel of Enfield, the ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee. "And if I have to go and buy something on the street and bake it into a brownie in my own house, I'm gonna do it. Because it's someone I love."

State Senator Toni Boucher, who has been skeptical of medical marijuana in the past, said she had some concerns- among them, she said she worried about the effect marijuana has on developing brains.

"Some people would say it's also a pretty dangerous drug," she said. "At least, the federal government still feels it's one of the more dangerous drugs."

More than 3,000 Connecticut residents have been prescribed medical marijuana for a variety of conditions, like epilepsy or glaucoma. Connecticut is one of 23 states where medical marijuana is legal, along with New York.