HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - Connecticut patients suffering from certain debilitating medical conditions will soon be able to apply with the state Department of Consumer Protection to receive medical marijuana.
Starting Monday, the agency will make applications available online. The step is among the first toward creating a new system in Connecticut of legalized medical marijuana for palliative purposes.
Some other new state laws that take effect Monday pertain to sex trafficking, used cars and highway safety.
Claudette Carveth, spokeswoman for the Department of Consumer Protection, said Friday the agency has received calls from people interested in an application but the agency has not kept a waiting list.
To qualify for a temporary registration certificate, a person must be at least 18 and a state resident. A Connecticut-licensed doctor must initiate the registration process and certify that the person meets the medical prerequisites.
Only certain medical conditions are eligible for the treatment. They include AIDS, cancer, glaucoma, HIV, Parkinson's disease, and multiple sclerosis, among others.
Meanwhile, the consumer protection agency has until July 1 to submit new regulations to the General Assembly as to how the drug will be dispensed and other details. The program is expected to be up and running by late 2013.
"From talking to a lot of people, Connecticut clearly will have the tightest, most restrictive system in the country," said Michael Lawlor, the governor's criminal justice adviser.
Lawlor said people who do end up qualifying for medical marijuana will now be allowed, under state law, to possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana as of Oct. 1. Until state-approved sources of medical marijuana are established, transactions to obtain the drug will still be illegal. But "the basic possession will be lawful, assuming you have the card," Lawlor said, adding how he doesn't expect a large number of people will qualify in the first months.
Among the other new laws that take effect in October is one that makes it a crime for someone to place an advertisement for sex that includes a depiction of a minor. The legislation is intended to help combat sex trafficking.
Proponents of the measure, including former House Speaker James Amann, had originally wanted to make the publishers of escort advertisements, online and print, criminally liable if the ads were deemed exploitation of minors. They proposed requiring publishers to get verification of the age of the person featured in the ad before running it.
Under the legislation ultimately signed by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, the new crime of commercial sexual exploitation of a minor is created, a Class C felony punishable by one-to-10 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.
Also on Monday, some new motor vehicle laws take effect.
One law attempts to ensure that auto dealerships provide buyers with a state-required safety check on used cars. Items that must be signed off as checked include service brakes, the parking brake, tires, wheels, the steering system and exhaust. In the past, some dealers did not do a thorough safety check, officials with the Department of Motor Vehicles say.
"This new law helps to protect consumers in the future from those situations where a few dealers have not done the checks as required," DMV Commissioner Melody A. Currey said.
Under the new law, a dealership owner faces arrest and fines up to $2,000 if they don't conduct the safety inspection
Another new law expands the current statute requiring motorists to move over when approaching a stationary vehicle. The law now applies to roads with two lanes of traffic going in the same direction. Originally, it had applied to those with three lanes or more.