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The official word on RI’s compassion center compromise

March 1, 2012

Here’s the official word on the legislation meant to get Rhode Island’s Medical Marijuana dispensaries open.  The bill has the support of  leadership and Governor Lincoln Chafee-

Legislators, Governor Chafee reach compromise on compassion centers

Perry, Slater introduce amendments aimed at allowing medical marijuana dispensaries to move forward


STATE HOUSE – Legislative leaders and the sponsors of legislation to allow compassion centers to distribute medical marijuana have reached an agreement with Gov. Lincoln Chafee that will allow the centers to open their doors.

After the General Assembly approved legislation to create compassion centers in 2009 over former governor Donald Carcieri’s veto, Governor Chafee ordered a halt to the licensing process last year over concerns that the federal government would target them or patients using their services.

After a series of meetings between legislators and the governor, Sen. Rhoda E. Perry and Rep. Scott A. Slater will sponsor legislation that will put stricter limits on compassion centers, designed to prevent them from being shut down or raided by federal agents.

“This is a good compromise that strengthens the safety of compassion centers. We just want patients to get some relief, soon. While we believe the existing law is good, this change will make it better by making our centers less of an issue for the federal government. Nobody in Rhode Island would want to see patients get caught up in some federal raid or lose access to their medicine, and if these changes further minimize that issue, they are positive for patients,” said Representative Slater (D-Dist. 10, Providence). His late father, Rep. Thomas D. Slater, alongside Senator Perry, sponsored both the law establishing compassing centers and Rhode Island’s medical marijuana law. The medical marijuana law was named after him and Senator Perry’s late nephew, Thomas Hawkins.

The legislation will allow the Department of Health to regulate limits on the amount of marijuana that a compassion center may grow and possess, since the magnitude of the marijuana and the resulting income it generates for privately run compassion centers appears to be a key element of concern for federal officials. It also allows registered patients or caregivers who grow up to their allotted maximums, but do not need the entire amount for themselves or their patients, to sell the excess to a compassion center, as long as the limits of the grower and the purchasing center are not exceeded. That provision is designed to address concerns about the illegal sale of excess marijuana.

The three centers that were already approved by the Department of Health after a public bidding process to be licensed will be able to operate under the new limits, so leaders expect the centers will be able to move swiftly to open.

“Our main concern is getting compassion centers up and running for the many suffering patients who still have no legal way to obtain their prescription medicine,” said Senator Perry (D-Dist. 3, Providence). “It’s been three years now since we approved compassion centers. That’s a long time for patients to wait for relief from pain and illness.  We already have three legitimate organizations that have been approved and are ready and willing to serve Rhode Island’s patients and the quicker we move on these amendments, the less time Rhode Island’s sick and dying will spend suffering.”

Senator Perry introduced the legislation (2012-S 2555) in the Senate yesterday with 13 cosponsors. Representative Slater expects to submit his bill today, with 44 cosponsors.

Governor Chafee supports the bill.

“Since the Rhode Island medical marijuana law invited federal action, I have been working with advocates on a remedy. I applaud Senator Perry and Representative Slater for their work and I look forward to passage of a bill that will avoid federal intervention and bring needed medicinal relief to those who stand to benefit,” said Governor Chafee.

Now that the bill has the official support from the Governor and “legislative leaders,” what do you think?

7 Comments leave one →
  1. Brian permalink
    March 2, 2012 7:28 am

    There’s no mention of US Attorney Peter Neronha in this article… I doubt very much that he’s going to give this his blessing… let’s hope that Gov. Chafee doesn’t cave-in to his threats again.

  2. sue permalink
    March 26, 2012 9:01 am

    Please let us know when you are going to open the centers, I have Severe Fibromyalgia, and I am on so many finds of meds, I would like to try the medical marijuana, to get out of all this pain. Please hurry, and just get it done,
    Thank you

    • March 26, 2012 10:52 am

      Hi Sue,

      As a reporter I have no control over when these compassion centers open. But you don’t have to wait to get medical marijuana. If you qualify, you can get medical marijuana from a caregiver or grow it yourself. Contact RIPAC at or 401-861-1601 for more information.



      • half way there permalink
        April 8, 2012 8:23 pm

        What about those that qualify, have a valid card yet don’t have a care giver or the resources (space) to grow enough to provide sufficient meds? These centers are my only hope…

    • Mike permalink
      May 22, 2012 1:50 pm

      Sue, contact 11th State Consulting. They are in the Calart Tower building on Reservoir Ave. They have doctors who can evaluate you and get you legal in about 15 minutes. Once you get a card, I would be happy to have you try some different strains to see which work best for you. There is NO reason for you to have to live with pain and heavy chemical medication. Contact them today and get it done. email me at and we can get together after you become “legal.”
      I donate medicine to RIPAC so I have no problem not charging you.


  1. U.S. Attorney weighs in on compassion center compromise « The Pulse: health care in RI
  2. U.S. Attorney Peter Neronha’s latest medical marjiuana move « The Pulse: health care in RI

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