Governor scraps medical marijuana plan for Rhode Island

CONWAY, Mass Fri Sep 30, 2011 6:22pm EDT

An attendee holds marijuana buds at the International Cannabis & Hemp Expo in Oakland, California September 3, 2011. REUTERS/Mathew Sumner

An attendee holds marijuana buds at the International Cannabis & Hemp Expo in Oakland, California September 3, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Mathew Sumner

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CONWAY, Mass (Reuters) - State-run medical marijuana dispensaries will not be coming to Rhode Island after Governor Lincoln Chafee scrapped the plan for fear it was illegal under federal law.

Chafee, who had earlier vowed support for the measure, said he decided the state's planned dispensaries could violate superseding federal law and become a target of federal law enforcement efforts.

"Federal injunctions, seizures, forfeitures, arrests and prosecutions will only hurt the patients and caregivers that our law was designed to protect," the governor said in the statement late Thursday.

Before his reversal, Chafee had hoped to implement a 2009 law passed by Rhode Island's General Assembly allowing marijuana distribution through three state-run, so-called "compassion centers."

The measure authorized growing and selling marijuana to patients with debilitating illnesses, such as cancer, AIDS, and glaucoma.

Currently, 16 states and the District of Columbia allow the drug for medical use.

One of them is Montana, where in March federal agents raided state-sanctioned medical marijuana greenhouses and dispensaries in several cities, prompting an outcry from legalized pot suppliers. The busts, the first since Montana legalized marijuana for medical purposes in 2004, appeared to mark a reversal of federal policy set in 2009 that tolerated state-approved dispensaries.

Threatening a similar crackdown in Rhode Island, both the U.S. Department of Justice and Rhode Island's U.S. Attorney, Peter Neronha, this year said commercial operations such as the state-run dispensaries would be potential targets of "vigorous" criminal and civil enforcement efforts by the federal government.

Dropping the dispensary plan means that patients in Rhode Island will have to continue to grow their own marijuana, buy the drug illegally from "street" dealers, or acquire it from over 2,500 licensed caregivers in the state. Many have said they would prefer to use dispensaries for a convenient, safe, regulated option for quality marijuana.

Medical marijuana advocates decried Chafee's decision.

"We are shocked, outraged and really hurt all at the same time," JoAnne Leppanen, executive director of Providence-based Rhode Island Patient Advocacy Coalition, told Reuters.

Keith Stroup, legal counsel with the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, or NORML, a Washington, D.C.-based marijuana smoker's lobby, said his group was disappointed with Chafee's action.

"He's using the threat of federal enforcement somehow coming into the state as a justification to refuse to implement the medical marijuana dispensary provisions that previously have been approved," he said.

But long-time opponents including state Representative Doreen Costa cheered the plan's demise.

"I am very happy that he did that," said Costa, a Republican, who said some of her constituents did not want a dispensary in their district.

"Mainly the concern was, in the state of Rhode Island, marijuana is illegal, period. So if he wanted to open up the compassion centers, people would go buy the marijuana and I know they would be selling it on the street," Costa said.

(Editing by Barbara Goldberg and Greg McCune)

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Comments (2)
DonDig wrote:
It’s a shame the Federal government has so many running scared about this, including RI, obviously. The US government has had a patent on cannabinoids as a neuroprotectant since 2003. Quoting the patent, “This new found property makes cannabinoids useful in the treatment and prophylaxis of wide variety of oxidation associated diseases, such as ischemic, age-related, inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. The cannabinoids are found to have particular application as neuroprotectants, for example in limiting neurological damage following ischemic insults, such as stroke and trauma, or in the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and HIV dementia.” Surely they speak the truth about this. Have a look at the patent. http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO1&Sect2=HITOFF&d=PALL&p=1&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsrchnum.htm&r=1&f=G&l=50&s1=6630507.PN.&OS=PN/6630507&RS=PN/6630507Sect1=PTO1&Sect2=HITOFF&d=PALL&p=1&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO

Dave Triplett (and others) have found cannabis oil to cure melanoma as he shows in his short movie about his own experience. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0tghUh4ubbg

Cannabis has been proven to kill cancer cells in lab tests without harming the healthy cells present. http://www.gsalternative.com/2010/05/cannabinoids-kill-cancer/

Many people have seen similar results personally, including a number of stage 4 cancer sufferers given ‘hemp oil’ by Rick Simpson in Canada, who were cured by ingesting it. (Rick said there was about a 70% recovery rate in those stage 4 folks; the rest died as their prognosis forecast.) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0psJhQHk_GI

I have started a We The People petition asking the government to reveal what it knows about cannabis that is beneficial, since it has thus far only been releasing detrimental information. Until the petition receives 150 votes, you can only view and sign the petition here: http://wh.gov/4y0

Thank you for your time.

Oct 01, 2011 10:17am EDT  --  Report as abuse
pPxdrKo9123 wrote:
The plutocrats that make these pretend laws claiming they want to help patients are really just a plan to benefit a chosen few of their fellow plutocrat friends pocketbooks. RI, DC, NJ, Delaware are all states where patients will never see a gram of legal dispensary medicine.

Selling cannabis to medical marijuana patients may be an act of civil disobedience and these pretenders don’t have enough ‘mustard’ to get the job done.

Oct 01, 2011 3:47pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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