State-licensed dispensaries may be opening within months in Rhode Island, but a compromise set for review tomorrow might cripple their ability to properly serve the public.
The compromise, drafted by lawmakers working alongside Governor Lincoln Chafee, scares marijuana activists. Chafee had already folded to federal pressure last year, blocking the dispensaries from opening. Boston.com reports that the lawmakers say that this law is meant to be flexible - if the federal government leans on the state again, regulations can be tightened.
Such a compromise could, unfortunately, limit the amount of marijuana a dispensary is allowed to keep in stock; if the dispensaries cannot meet the demand for their marijuana, they may not be able to afford their operating expenses. If the compromise is accepted, the Department of Health would designate approved limits. They intend on holding public hearings on the regulations in that case.
The three licensed and state-approved dispensaries are the Greenleaf Compassionate Care Center of Portsmouth, the Thomas C. Slater Compassion Center in Providence and Summit Medical Compassion Center in Warwick.
This week, U.S. Attorney for Rhode Island Peter Neronha advised that the compromise is not federally-endorsed, and while individual patients won't (likely) face prosecution, dispensary-owners would.
According to Boston.com, "more than 4,400 Rhode Islanders are now enrolled in the state's medical marijuana program," which has been active since 2006.