A pair of controversial bills approving the medical use of marijuana and abolishing the state's death penalty cleared the General Assembly's Judiciary Committee Wednesday evening, sending both bills closer to passage.
According to CTNewsJunkie, the medical marijuana bill, House Bill 5389, passed handily by a 35-8 margin after about an hour of debate. Earlier Wednesday, Quinnipiac University released that found support of marijuana for medical purposes by a 68-27 percent margin. House Bill 5389 would allow a physician to prescribe marijuana to a patient for certain medical conditions. The patient would then obtain the drug at a licensed dispensary with the prescription limited to one per year.
The bill now heads to the Connecticut House of Representatives for debate. If approved, according to the Hartford Courant, Connecticut would be the 16th state to legalize medical marijuana.
The CTMirror reports that the bill to abolish the death penalty in Connecticut passed under much tighter margins, on a 24-19 vote, and with much more intense debate. Known as Senate Bill 280 "An act revising the penalty for capital felonies," the bill now heads to the Connecticut State Senate for consideration.
Connecticut legislators have tried in recent years to repeal the death penalty, only to see their efforts thwarted at the last minute. Both houses of the legislature approved a bill to veto the death penalty in 2009, but then Gov. M. Jodi Rell vetoed the bill, citing the brutal 2007 Cheshire home invasion that resulted in the the assault and murders of Jennifer Hawke-Petit and her two young daughters.
A bill to abolish the death penalty was also advancing in the legislature last year, , D-Columbia, who had previously supported the legislation, switched her allegiance after a last minute meeting with Dr. William Petit, the sole survivor of the 2007 Cheshire home invasion. The bill was never formally brought to a vote last year.
The CTMirror reports that Prague and two other state senators, Carlo Leone of Stamford and Joseph Crisco of Woodbridge, are publicly uncommitted to the proposal at this point. The bill to abolish the death penalty passed the senate on a 19-17 vote in 2009.
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has repeatedly indicated he would sign the bill if it is approved.
The same Quinnipiac University poll found that Connecticut voters strongly oppose abolishing the death penalty, with a margin of 62-31 percent calling the proposal a "bad idea."