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Gifford to The Pulse- “We goofed”

September 15, 2010

Dr. David Gifford came to WRNI yesterday to speak candidly about the medical marijuana retail store application process.  He’s come under fire for the Department of Health’s (DOH) decision to disqualify every applicant to run a so called compassion center and start the entire selection process over again.

Gifford says he knows it’s difficult to believe, but DOH actually failed to count the pages of each application to make sure they didn’t exceed the 25 page limit. In his words, “we goofed up.”

Gifford says when the applications were evaluated, all of the proposals that received below 70 points had stuck to the page limit. The top six applicants had not.  It seemed the longer applications  had an unfair disadvantage, and DOH saw no option but to start over.

What makes this confusing is DOH  allowed unlimited attachments-all of the applications in total were at least 40 pages. Whether the lower scoring applications would have been less impressive regardless of how long their “technical” applications were is up for discussion.

Gifford denies any rumors that the Governor or any other elected officials tried to influence his decision.  He calls the compassion center process “too high profile” for anyone to want to meddle with it.  He also says no one compassion center applicant convinced the DOH to start the process over.

The DOH started looking at the page limit issue after it received 7 letters of complaint from various applicants ( Gifford originally said 8 letters but he says they counted one of them twice.)  He says he is making those letters available to the ACLU and the Rhode Island Patient Advocacy Coalition (RIPAC).  He’s also agreed to make them available to The Pulse.  I will post PDFs of those letters as soon as I receive them.

Now, for your thoughts.  Are folks satisfied with Gifford’s explanation for his decision?

5 Comments leave one →
  1. Bob permalink
    September 15, 2010 9:28 pm

    I’m not at all satisfied with Dr. Gifford’s response. You “goofed?” That’s your excuse? Meanwhile thousands of sick and dying Rhode Island residents wait for you to license compassion centers which will allow them safe and reliable access to the medicine that their physicians think best treat their problems.

  2. IMHO permalink
    September 15, 2010 9:55 pm

    I suppose a few tough questions for Dr. Gifford would be 1. Why did it take months of review to come to this decision? Any fool can count pages in an hour or less. 2. If he is starting over to “clarify” the application, why didn’t he simply reach out to the 15 applicants to do so?  3. How does he intend to make this new process fair to the 15 who dedicated countless time and money and had their proposals out there for the whole world to see/copy?

    All the while their lives were on hold as they waited like sitting ducks. Patients remain in pain. “We goofed”?…hardly an acceptable excuse. Its arrogant and infuriating, actually.

    Something is very wrong here.

  3. Billy permalink
    September 16, 2010 2:37 pm

    “We goofed.” That is so choice. Would one of the applicants please go to court and sue the Department of Health. I am sure the depositions of the staff would be rather uncomfortable. Someone needs to uncover the obvious corruption that took place here. Patients are literally dying.

  4. PDM permalink
    September 17, 2010 12:10 am

    “We goofed up” is not acceptable. If Dr. David Gifford cannot handle a simplistic clerical task then it is high time to get someone who can. Considerable time and monies have been spent on navigating the process. Not too mention the people currently suffering who would benefit greatly by a clear path to medicinal marijuana. Dr. Clifford should either lead, follow, or preferably – after having been sickened by his publicly displayed incompetence – get the hell out of the way!


  1. Selling medical marijuana round 2 « The Pulse: health care in RI

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