The latest on medical marijuana
I’m going to chat with Radio Boston on Thursday about marijuana in Rhode Island, so I made a few calls to make sure my information is up to date. Here’s what I learned-
When will the compassion centers open?
Depends on who you ask. I was only able to get through to two of the three compassion center groups. This is what they told me-
1. Greenleaf Compassionate Care Center in Portsmouth– The group is in the final stages of preparing a temporary space next to the permanent offices so the dispensary can have a “soft opening.” Seth Bock expects to have an occupation certificate for that area within the next 3-4 weeks. Then he’ll just need a final ok from the Health Department and he’ll be able to accept patients.
Seth Bock plans on opening up the medical marijuana retail store before he has medicine to sell, just so patients can get used to the center. Clones from caregivers should help him speed up the growing process so Greenleaf will have mature plants and product to offer by mid August.
1. Thomas C Slater Compassion Center in Providence– Slater’s spokesman Chris Reilly doesn’t want to commit to a specific opening date, but he says it’s likely the dispensary will open sometime this fall.
Slater is waiting on the Department of Health to establish a system for patients to sign up to use the compassion centers. Once that happens, Slater can start signing people up and growing medical marijuana. Remember, the compassion centers can only grow 12 mature plants per patient, so they need people to sign up before they can create a crop. One the system for identifying patients is clear, Slater will start remodeling its space and growing marijuana.
3. Summit Medical Compassion Center– Spokesman Terry Fracassa did not answer his phone and his voice mailbox is full. I’ll post more on the dispensary’s time line once I get through to him.
What do the numbers look like?
As of Wednesday afternoon, there are-
3,428 patients in the state’s medical marijuana program
2,175 caregivers (these are the folks that grow marijuana for the patients)
459 doctors that have recommend marijuana for their patients
How will patients find doctors?
According to RIPAC (the Rhode Island Patient Advocacy Coalition) some folks are having trouble finding doctors that will recommend medical marijuana. Joanne Leppanen with RIPAC says once the word gets out that a certain physician is willing to let patients use the drug, they get swamped with requests- some legitimate and some not. That makes many of them overwhelmed, and they decide to stop recommending marijuana for ANYONE.
So RIPAC is working on a program for pre-screening potential medical marijuana patients and then referring them to a doctor. That way physician won’t be overwhelmed by everyone who wants to take advantage of the program. Leppanen expects that process to start in May.
That’s all I have in terms of updates for now. Tune in tomorrow at 3pm on WBUR to hear what I have to say!