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RI medical marijuana- what next?

October 3, 2011

It’s been a few days since Governor Lincoln Chafee halted RI’s medical marijuana dispensary program. Patients and their advocates held a rally on Saturday, and some are starting to confront Chafee at his public events, but what’s the long term plan? What will happen to the three applicants selected to sell marijuana in the state?

I checked in with a few of the folks in the medical marijuana community to learn more about their next steps.

RIPAC- Rhode Island Patient Advocacy Coalition

Executive director JoAnne Leppanen says she’s still working with the ACLU to bring a lawsuit against the governor. So far, they haven’t found a lawyer to take on the case pro-bono. Leppanen says if it has to, RIPAC might team up with the compassion centers to find a paid attorney.  In the meantime, she looking  for new ways to reach out to the governor. She’s not sure what that means specifically, but she’s working on a plan.

Compassion Centers-Slater and Greenleaf

Seth Bock from Greenleaf Compassionate Care Center in Portsmouth, and Chris Reilly with the Thomas C Slater Compassion Center in Providence  say they’re willing to eventually take the state to court. But first they want to sit down with the governor.  They say they’re willing to draw up some type of compromise to make the governor more comfortable- perhaps limit to some extent the number of plants they can grow or the number of patients they can accept.  Bock says he’s hoping the compassion centers can help design new legislation and introduce it in the October special session of the General Assembly. So far, they’ve made no appointment with the governor. A representative from Summit Compassion Center in Warwick didn’t respond to my phone calls.

Patients-Ellen Lenox Smith

Ellen Lenox Smith wasn’t one of the patients getting into Chafee’s face at his public appearances this weekend, but she’s been a constant presence at medical marijuana rallies and press conferences.  She says Chafee has backed patients into a corner. Advocates have tried to be polite, but now they’re angry and ready to file a lawsuit. She says she’s also hearing from friends who are interested in becoming caregivers, hoping to help out the patients who thought they’d get their medicine from a dispensary. Perhaps that could be a more immediate result of Chafee’s decision.

Caregivers- Joel Allock

Joel Allcock is a caregiver for two elderly women in Rhode Island who use medical marijuana for pain and to help them sleep at night.  Allcock would also be a cultivator for Thomas C. Slater Compassion Center if it ever opens, though he stresses that he’s acting as an individual and not as a representative for Slater. Allcock was featured prominently on the news when he confronted Chafee at an event on Friday. He says there’s a group of about 12-30 patients and advocates that are committed to put a human face on Chafee’s issue by appearing at his public events.

It’s not personal, I voted for Governor Chafee, I thought he was a compassionate person, I thought he was someone that believed in science. I’m disappointed. I’m deeply ashamed that I voted for the man. That being said, if he gets out of the way and issues the licenses as the law dictates, then it all goes away.

The governor’s office hasn’t responded yet to my request for a comment.

What do you think? Can the compassion centers still move forward? Are they completely dead? Could new legislation save the problem? Would a lawsuit be successful? Weigh in on the future of RI’s medical marijuana program.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. bee gee permalink
    October 3, 2011 9:22 pm

    Everyone here is affiliated with the compa$$ion centers.

  2. Patient permalink
    October 3, 2011 11:07 pm

    Everyone? Can you get me a job if they open?

  3. Tanya Becker permalink
    October 5, 2011 12:37 am

    I am in support of Gov. Chaffee’s decision. I believe that the compassionate care centers will only be a magnate for corruption – something that RI does not need more of. Legalizing marijuana will put everyone on the same level playing field. What is unclear to me, as a physician, is why people with chronic pain don’t use the voluminous legal pain relievers at their disposal.

    • October 5, 2011 5:59 pm

      Thanks for your comment Tanya! I’ve spoken to some medical marijuana patients who say their bodies can’t tolerate pain medication (Ellen Lenox Smith in particular). Others say marijuana gives them the relief they need without the nasty side effects of heavy duty pain medication.

    • October 6, 2011 12:46 am

      do have to back too square 1 ….i thought all these issues were addressed in all the years it took to get this legalized

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