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.
On March 22, 1972, a commission for US drug policy unintentionally started a war on marijuana. Though the Congressionally-mandated commission advised that criminal law was "too harsh a tool" to discourage personal use of marijuana, then-president Richard Nixon declared an "all out war on all fronts" against the drug.
Yesterday, a Quinnipiac University poll yesterday showed that a majority of the Connecticut public oppose the repeal of the death penalty, but are in favor of the legalization of medical marijuana. Hours later, a legislative committee reaffirmed that sentiment with a 35-8 vote to approve the medical marijuana legislation, House Bill 5389.
HB 5389 would require patients to register with the Department of Consumer Protection, and allow physicians to prescribe medical marijuana for certain conditions. The patients would obtain their medicine from licensed dispensaries.
In 2007, a medical marijuana bill passed legislation but was vetoed by then-Governor Mary Jodi Rell. Governor Dannel P. Malloy backed a bill last year, but it failed to become law. Connecticut did, however, decriminalize small amounts of marijuana.
You can read the full text of HB 5389 here.
Coincidentally, the legislative committee voted to repeal the death penalty against the public's poll results by a narrow margin: 24-19.