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What’s Your Plan For Selling Medical Marijuana?

May 21, 2010

Yesterday I decided to invite the 15 compassion center applicants to explain their proposals on this blog.  We’ve already received one response!

David J  DiSanto is a property manager in Foster, RI.  He decided to apply to run a compassion center with his father David P. Disanto- a partner at the accounting firm DiSanto, Priest &Co. DiSanto’s team includes Sean Conway– the host of the TV show Cultivating Life and the former owner of Conway’s Nursery in Tiverton.

DiSanto also lists Ernest Almonte, the former Auditor General of  RI, as the group’s community relations director and Dr. Gyan Pareek, a urologist with The Miriam Hospital, as  the medical director.

David J Disanto sent in his response to a handful of basic questions last night. If you have any other specific questions for him, please post them in the comments section.  David DiSanto says he’ll be happy to follow up.

Let’s get started.

MH: Let’s say I’m a medical marijuana patient.  Describe my experience when I walk through the doors of your compassion center

DD: As a patient, you will be issued a Rhode Island Compassion Center ID Card.   When you drive up to The Center, you will swipe your card to open the gate and drive into the complex. [ED note– DiSanto says people who walk, take the bus, or ride their bikes will also use this same entrance.] When you walk into our front door, you will enter our security threshold and be greeted by an off-duty police officer who will check your credentials and open the door to the patient lounge.

The patient lounge will be a spacious, comfortably furnished room for patients to sit and relax.  There will be a library of educational medical marijuana materials, a classroom, a TV room, and a state of the art demonstration kitchen.  The goal is to provide patients with a safe comfortable place to socialize and share information.

MH: Where would your store be located?

DD: Our proposed location is in the City of Cranston, off of Route 37 between 95 and 295.

MH: Have you received zoning approval for your site?

DD: Our site’s zoning allows for health care centers.

MH: How will you handle security?

DD: Security is of the utmost importance to our group.  We have contracted with a local security consulting firm, Shanix, Inc., to design the physical security of the building.  Shanix is responsible for implementing security systems in many local police stations, banks, and the Millstone nuclear power plant.  Our security personnel will include off duty armed police detail as security officers, and a full-time Chief of Security responsible for overseeing the internal and external security of The Center.

For the protection of our patients and the community, the entire property will be surrounded by an alarmed security fence which will alert our security staff and the local police of any unauthorized attempt to enter the premises.   The building will be monitored 24/7 and equipped with cutting edge computerized surveillance, electronic door locks and alarms systems.  We will conduct extensive background checks on all employees, and work closely with local and state law enforcement to ensure the safety of the surrounding community.

MH: How much would the marijuana cost?

DD: Our prices will likely range from $200-$400, depending on the particular product.

MH: How would you meet the needs of low income patients?

The Rhode Island Compassion Center has a Charity Care Policy that will be implemented to serve the needs of low income patients.  We will assess patient needs on a case-by-case basis, and provide subsidies to offset some or all of the cost of medicine, depending on the needs of the individual.  Our non-profit business model will also reinvest our revenues into providing more subsidies to patients in need.

MH: What motivated you to apply?

DD: My father and I decided to apply for this license earlier this year when my mother, who has Multiple Sclerosis, was suffering from leg spasms and asked her Neurologist for a medical marijuana recommendation.  Multiple Sclerosis is a qualifying medical condition under the Medical Marijuana Act, and medical marijuana has been proven safe and effective for treatment of these symptoms.

In spite of this, the doctor refused to sign the recommendation form.  We believe it was his fear of the stigma associated with prescribing the drug.

My mother still has not received a doctor recommendation, but is working on finding another doctor.  Being denied the recommendation by her physician was an embarrassing experience for her, and now she is in the position of having to approach a doctor who she does not have an existing relationship with.  She is doing well overall.

My father and I began to discuss what we could do to help patients safely obtain their medicine and educate Rhode Island community to reduce social stigmas attached to medical marijuana.  We decided to apply for one of these licenses in order to achieve our goals.

MH: Medical marijuana is often the butt of a lot of jokes.  How have friends/colleagues responded to your interest in running a compassion center?

DD: Everyone so far has responded positively.

MH: Why should RI pick your application?

DD: Rhode Island should pick our application because we are a diverse group of local experts committed to helping patients.  Each member of our Board of Directors has been uniquely successful in their respective fields and we feel that each of them brings a high level of integrity and skill to this project.    We are dedicated to providing Rhode Island’s medical marijuana patients with a safe, professional location to obtain their medicine and learn more about the medicinal uses of marijuana.

MH: Do you have any web links to information about your plan or about any of your team members that you’d like to share?

DD: Our website is under construction at, in the coming days we will be posting the entire application on the site.

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