Neighbors Fault Compassion Center Proposal
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Neighbors Fault Compassion Center Proposal
Posted by CN Staff on July 06, 2010 at 04:25:14 PT
By W. Zachary Malinowski, Journal Staff Writer
Source: Providence Journal
Providence, RI  --  A group of developers, residents and artists that have helped transform a section of the Valley neighborhood into a thriving community are upset with a proposal to establish a medical-marijuana compassion center near them.The state Health Department has yet to select operators for up to three centers for people in the state’s medical-marijuana program, but officials are reviewing 15 applications and they are bound by a state law to select an operator for the state’s first marijuana dispensary no later than July 30.
The Health Department hosted a hearing last Tuesday in which the public was invited to support, oppose or ask questions about the 15 applicants who have proposed marijuana centers in Providence, Pawtucket, Warwick, Portsmouth and northern Rhode Island.At the hearing, a group led by Josephine DiRuzzo, a longtime city councilwoman who represents the neighborhood, expressed opposition to the Thomas C. Slater Compassion Center, at 431 Harris Ave.The proposal calls for a full-service marijuana operation in two buildings at the sprawling former Capitol Records Center building near the intersection of Harris Avenue and Valley Street. Marijuana would be grown indoors there.DiRuzzo said the plans caught her and the neighborhood off-guard and that the Health Department and city should have done a better job of notifying them.“My concern is that this is no location for a compassion center that grows marijuana,” she said. “It’s just so highly populated.”Erik Bright, the developer and a resident at the Monohasset Mill Complex, said that he would like the Health Department to postpone this month’s decision to give Slater officials more time to find a home for the compassion center — outside of his neighborhood.“None of us are against compassion centers, but nobody talked to us, and this isn’t the right place,” he said. “Why in the foothill of Federal Hill? This is just the wrong place.”Bright pointed out that, in the past 15 years, about $200 million has been spent to redevelop aging mill buildings in the neighborhood into condominiums and the Steel Yard on Sims Avenue has become a magnet for children and others interested in a variety of art and trade programs.Drake Patten, the Steel Yard’s executive director, said she has no problem with the medical-marijuana program and compassion centers, but she’s concerned about the message a “fortress-like building” would send to the neighborhood. “We’re concerned with the scale of it,” she said.Annemarie Beardsworth, Health Department spokeswoman, said the concerns of DiRuzzo and others who testified and submitted letters in opposition of the Slater Center will be taken into account in the coming weeks.Gerald J. McGraw Jr. and other Slater officials have emphasized that the marijuana center would be tightly controlled and have a state-of-the art-security system. They are confident that the business would quickly blend into the neighborhood.Chris Reilly, spokesman for the Slater group, said that the center’s executives will be happy to meet with local residents and listen to their concerns. “Our main goal in the project is to help sick people,” he said. “We just want to be a good neighbor.”DiRuzzo said she did know about the Slater center’s plans three months ago, but, at the time, the project’s backers were eyeing the vacant Eastern Butcher Block building on Eagle Street. The building is a short walk to the Harris Avenue building.On April 27, DiRuzzo met with officials from the city’s Department of Planning and Development and the Slater Center at City Hall. Among the officials were McGraw, Slater’s president; Wally Gernt, a project consultant; and two planning officials: Bob Azar, director of current planning, and Amintha Cinotti, deputy director.She said that she never heard another word about the Slater Center until she read a Providence Journal story June 28.But city and Health Department officials point out that there had been public notification.On June 3, health officials released the names of the 15 applicants complete with primary contacts and phone numbers. The information was posted on the department’s Web site and the Journal published a story about it the next day.A week later, the Health Department posted thousands of pages of details on each of the proposals that included who would be running the centers, where they might be located and budget projections.Sabina Matos, a candidate for Providence City Council in the Olneyville neighborhood, was troubled with the Health Department’s decision to host the public hearing on a weekday morning. Comments were limited to five minutes.“The feedback I’m hearing from my neighbors is that they weren’t given a fair chance to speak out on this issue,” she said. “Having morning meetings in the basement of a state building is not an accessible, fair way to conduct business.”Matos submitted a letter to the Health Department and the city’s Department of Planning and Development asking them to schedule another public hearing for neighborhood residents.Source: Providence Journal, The (RI)Author: W. Zachary Malinowski, Journal Staff Writer Published:  Tuesday, July 6, 2010Copyright: 2010 The Providence Journal CompanyContact: letters projo.comWebsite: URL:  Medical Marijuana Archives 
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Comment #2 posted by Cheebs1 on July 06, 2010 at 15:22:19 PT:
What a load of crap in the link from comment #1. These prohibionists should all be afflicted with the pain and suffereing that the folks that really need MMJ go through. I try not to feel that way but when I read such drivel saying that the children come first it upsets me. Screw the children. Screw the religious groups. Not one person that advocates for medical marijuana advocates for underage consumption. Do these prohibitionists have such a difficult time controlling themselves that they think all are like them? If children are the only argument then they really have no clue that legalization and regulation can and will accomplish what prohibition and tyranny cannot.
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Comment #1 posted by por1 on July 06, 2010 at 05:55:44 PT:
Same thing
is happening all around the country.The prohibs are going down kicking and screeming.
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