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Chafee hopes to proceed with compassion centers

August 1, 2011

More than a week after New Jersey Governor Chris Cristie gave his state the go ahead to distribute medical marijuana, there’s been no announcement from Governor Chafee.

Rhode Island’s medical marijuana advocates were optimistic that Christie’s announcement would give Chafee the confidence he needed to lift the state’s hold on RI’s compassion centers. The governor’s office repeatedly told me that a decision was coming, as soon as Chafee met with his legal council.

He still hasn’t made up his mind.

My awesome colleague Ian Donnis had a long interview with the governor and asked him about the delay. Here are some tidbits from their conversation-

Ian Donnis: Your administration has put some considerable effort into seeing that the accused killer Jason Pleau not go into federal custody because of concerns about the possible use of capital punishment. If this is a matter of principle, why are you not standing up in the same way to the federal government on the issue of medical marijuana?

Governor Lincoln Chafee: They’re very different. On the capital punishment case, the federal government asked me to sign a release and they could have, if they wanted to supersede state law and state policy, they should have just done that, but they asked me to sign the release and when I declined that’s how it got into court… As far as the medical marijuana, we’re looking and trying to make the best decisions without getting the Justice Department to shut down if we proceed with the compassion centers. I know New Jersey is proceeding, and certainly the beneficiaries of medical marijuana have been very vocal, and I do want to offer them some help, and hopefully we can proceed with that, opening those dispensaries.

Ian Donnis: As you said, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is proceeding on that, he’s a Republican, you’re perceived as being more liberal than he, so why not proceed in the same way?

Governor Lincoln Chafee: Well, he’s I believe really making a political calculation here and challenging the president, who’s of the other party, challenging him to go back on what he said during the campaign where they would not violate what the states have passed. Governor Christie is kind of challenging the Obama administration. I have a different relationship with him than political adversaries.

I put a call in to Chafee’s office to check on when he’ll be making a decision on medical marijuana. No word yet. A spokeswoman says there is no time-line and Governor Chafee will take all the time he needs to make a sound decision.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Concerned permalink
    August 2, 2011 1:07 pm

    Perhaps someone should remind the governor that this matter pertains to the citizens of RI, not his “relationship” with the president.

    • August 3, 2011 1:50 pm

      Here here! Ditto that!

      While Chafee “takes all the time in the world” to make up his mind about the dispensaries, people are suffering, putting off life-saving chemotherapy and radiation treatments – because they can’t survive the treatments without medical marijuana.

      And think of the business interests that are now paying rent for empty space, etc. etc. There is a huge backlash for his lack of leadership on this issue. He took the seat of Governor knowing this was what his voters and the citizens of RI want, and now that he’s in power he is a lame duck.

      His obvious lack of a sense of urgency over this issue, which really truly is an issue of compassion and following the laws here in RI that have been written, is disturbing and I hope voters will remember this when election time comes again…

      One term Governor for sure.


  1. Chafee to halt compassion center program indefinitely « The Pulse: health care in RI

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