House Passes Plan To Create Marijuana Dispensaries

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  House Passes Plan To Create Marijuana Dispensaries

Posted by CN Staff on May 20, 2009 at 19:37:16 PT
By Cynthia Needham, Journal State House Bureau  
Source: Providence Journal 

Providence, R.I. -- Three years after legalizing medical marijuana in Rhode Island, House lawmakers Wednesday easily OK’d a plan to create dispensaries that would sell the drug to patients who use it for medicinal purposes.“To go through cancer, or to go through a debilitating disease is extremely, extremely hard,” said Rep. Thomas C. Slater, the bill’s sponsor and a cancer patient himself. “One day you might feel great, the next day you may have pain all over your body…This bill gives people a safe haven to get help, to get medical marijuana.”
The Senate in April overwhelmingly approved an identical version of the bill. Now each chamber must pass each other’s version for the bill to receive final approval.Governor Carcieri, a long-time critic of medical marijuana, is expected to veto the measure once it reaches his desk. But the House approved the legislation in a 63-to-5 vote with 7 members absent –– a margin wide enough to easily override a veto.House Majority Leader Gordon D. Fox indicated that the leadership will seriously consider that option. “I would hope that [the governor] wouldn’t [veto it], and look at the broader issues raised…,” Fox said. “But if he does I think we have the votes to override and I would advocate doing that.”High above the House floor Wednesday night, medical marijuana patient Ellen Smith of Scituate, who suffers from chronic pain conditions, craned her neck from her spot in a wheelchair to get a better look as the vote took place. When Speaker William J. Murphy announced the legislation had passed, she clapped wildly, her face awash in relief.Since medical marijuana was legalized in 2006, many of the almost 600 Rhode Islanders like Smith, who are authorized to use drug to relieve pain from certain debilitating diseases, have noted a major loophole in the law: it provided no clear path for them to obtain marijuana, leaving them to try to grow it themselves, or buy it off the streets.State-regulated “compassion centers” could provide a safer and presumably more affordable place for patients to legally purchase the drug, they say.An earlier version of the dispensary bill was approved by the Senate last year, only to die in a House Committee. Governor Carcieri later vetoed a compromise plan to study the concept.Warwick Republican Rep. Joseph Trillo acknowledges that he, too, was deeply skeptical of the dispensaries until he heard the testimony of the sickest patients.“The bottom line is we passed a law. There are people out there that are using [the drug]; they claim it is working and it’s helping them. But there’s a problem and the problem is how do they get it?…” Trillo said. “There has been instance after instance where people have been assaulted, they’ve been beat up, they’ve been robbed and all this to get their medication.”Legalizing the dispensaries would that protection, he said.Not everyone was convinced. Several members questioned how to keep dispensaries safe from crime. The state police have also voiced opposition. In a letter to lawmakers this spring, state police Supt. Col. Brendan P. Doherty cited examples of medical marijuana dispensaries in California that were doubling as drug trafficking or money laundering setups.Carcieri spokeswoman Amy Kempe said Wednesday the governor remains opposed to the legislation, believing it weakens the laws governing illicit drugs. But she would not confirm whether he will veto it.Should lawmakers elect to override a veto, Rhode Island could see its first dispensary open as early as this fall. The proposed law gives the state Department of Health 90 days to draft regulations for those interested in applying to run the first compassion center (eventually up to three could open). The Health Department Wednesday could not provide details about that process.Jesse Stout, executive director of the Rhode Island Patient Advocacy Coalition, which has pushed for passage of the bill, said he’s received at least 30 calls from people interested starting the first center.On the federal level, medical marijuana is illegal, but the Obama administration has pledged not to raid dispensaries. New Mexico is the only other state that licenses so-called compassion centers, although California also allows them.“It’s very hard to understand why you need a compassion center, I know,” Slater said. “Medical marijuana doesn’t cure cancer, but the relief people get can get from it can help ease the pain and make it all a little easier.”Source: Providence Journal, The (RI)Author:   Cynthia Needham, Journal State House Bureau Published: Thursday, May 21, 2009Copyright: 2009 The Providence Journal CompanyContact: letters projo.comWebsite: Articles:A Growing Remedy R.I. Senate Approves Bill for Dispensaries

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Comment #17 posted by FoM on May 21, 2009 at 12:36:13 PT
I just thought of a good motto for us.We are the news we can believe in!Have a wonderful holiday weekend.
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Comment #16 posted by Hope on May 21, 2009 at 11:11:52 PT
I've noticed the change, too. It seemed rather sudden. I think someone... maybe a higher up in the company... maybe a higher up in the government, had a little talk with them and told, or threatened, them to change their tune.Maybe some license renewal with the government is near and they've been warned or something. I don't know, but I've noticed it, too, and not just at CNN. I think someone may have told them they look like "A bunch of potheads", or something equally insulting and demeaning, for looking at the reform side of the story, and to cease and desist immediately or they'd be fired or something.There's probably a huge news story in there somehow... that only a blogger or independent journalist of some sort would be able to cover. Someone or some group is controlling the news to prop up prohibition, even though so many people see the real necessity of change, and soon.
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Comment #15 posted by Hope on May 21, 2009 at 11:00:49 PT
One thing that was odd to me about
what the Representative said was something to the effect that something was "crippling". That entire phrase involving blacks and Latin Americans sounds misstated somehow, except the part about putting "An ethnic tone to it".I'm really impressed with the bravery and knowledge of this Rep. Conroe from Tennessee.
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Comment #14 posted by FoM on May 21, 2009 at 10:57:04 PT

I don't like loose ends but no one seems to know when this hearing was. CNN is getting weird. It tries to make you think it is ok with marijuana and then they spin reefer madness. I stopped watching them when I saw a commercial against reforming health care. We can't have them spin this again. Too many people need help.
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Comment #13 posted by Hope on May 21, 2009 at 10:51:50 PT

The only recent hearing I can find
involving Mueller and Congress is the Guantanamo business. This doesn't seem like something that would have been discussed at that meeting.
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Comment #12 posted by Hope on May 21, 2009 at 10:50:17 PT

Josephlacerenza Comment 8
Rep. Steve Cohen, (D-Tenn), is the congressman.

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Comment #11 posted by runruff on May 21, 2009 at 10:07:45 PT

Methane poisoning clouds FBI minds!
John P. Walters has become irrelevant a reason: cause and effect!
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Comment #10 posted by FoM on May 21, 2009 at 09:49:15 PT

Have a nice Memorial Day weekend. Get rested up for the good fight ahead.
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Comment #9 posted by AdaptBones on May 21, 2009 at 09:22:33 PT:

comment #2
Wow that was an awesome video. I love watching prohibs get taken to the woodshed. "Drug use goes in waves", well sir that is one HELL of a wave for cannabis then...oh we should also point out that the wave has only gotten bigger and bigger and is showing no signs of breaking any time soon. Blessed be.
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Comment #8 posted by josephlacerenza on May 21, 2009 at 09:15:43 PT

Who was the congress person?
He may not be a cannabis proponent, but he was no prohib!!! He really stuck it to him at the end refuting the gateway theory!! The dam has so many cracks that the water can no longer be held back. When the Head of the FBI is drilled in such a public manner, I feel as if a real ground swelling is happening!! We are the ones on the RIGHT side of this issue. Oh, and the mentioning of how the laws were enacted to "take care of" the undesirables, blacks etc, was priceless.Hope everyone's weekend/memorial day goes well!! I will be away from the internets for four days and know there will be a lot to catch up on!!!
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Comment #7 posted by FoM on May 21, 2009 at 06:12:09 PT

I'd like to know too. 
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Comment #6 posted by Hope on May 21, 2009 at 06:10:14 PT

Anderson Cooper...
but where is it actually taking place? A Congressional Hearing? A Committee meeting? I'd like to know that, but so far I haven't been able to find out what it's about. What was their subject? What other things were said? When?This video is interesting but it's only part of something that's happened. I'd like to know more.
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Comment #5 posted by FoM on May 21, 2009 at 06:02:09 PT

I really don't know because I don't watch CNN anymore but it looks like it was on Anderson Cooper 360 recently.
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Comment #4 posted by Hope on May 21, 2009 at 05:55:39 PT

Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn)
Is the questioner.
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Comment #3 posted by Hope on May 21, 2009 at 05:45:26 PT

Comment 2
That's very interesting, but I can't find anything about what and where this interview was. Who is the man questioning the Director? Why? Where?
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Comment #2 posted by FoM on May 21, 2009 at 04:23:21 PT

Video: FBI Defends Marijuana Laws
May 20, 2009URL:
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Comment #1 posted by FoM on May 20, 2009 at 19:41:33 PT

Good News
I really hope this happens in Rhode Island.
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