Panel OKs Centers To Sell Medical Marijuana
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Panel OKs Centers To Sell Medical Marijuana
Posted by CN Staff on April 22, 2009 at 19:45:01 PT
By Katherine Gregg, Journal State House Bureau 
Source: Providence Journal
Providence, R.I. --  For the second year in a row, a state Senate committee has approved a bill to allow licensed dispensaries — known as “compassion centers” — to grow and sell marijuana to the estimated 600 patients who currently have the state’s blessing to use the drug for medicinal purposes.The unanimous vote on Wednesday by the Senate Committee on Health & Human Services, chaired by the lead sponsor of the legislation — Providence Democrat Rhoda Perry — elicited mixed reactions from the front-row spectators wearing T-shirts that said: “Rhode Island Compassion Club.”
Bobbi Brady, 42, of North Providence, a pot smoker since being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, said she was relieved. “Just because you are able to have it doesn’t mean that you can get it,” said Brady, calling the legislation now headed to the full Senate for a vote “one more step in fulfillment of the original intent of the law.”But Kirk Manter, 53, of Warwick, said: “I will fight to defeat the bill, rather than have it pass just for the sake of something passing, because I believe it is in the wrong direction.” He told reporters he would rather see the legislators support patients’ collectives, modeled after one to which he belongs that has grown and supplied marijuana to “hundreds” of patients over the years in return for donations.He said the members of the club are like him, patients authorized to use it, who grow the weed themselves and provide their “excess” to others in return for donations. “No one gets turned away when they contact us the first time and they are in need,” he said. “Then, we will help people with plants [to] get them started, teach them how to do a garden, grow it themselves.”Applauding Manter’s role in this underground trade, Brady said: “Kirk has helped me through the years, and he will do it at his own cost. … Sometimes I could only give him money for gas, but he knew I needed my medicine, and he would drive it up to me.”A hearing earlier this year hammered home the inherent conflict in the three-year-old state law that allows sick people to smoke marijuana to ease their pain but provides no clear legal path for them to obtain it. A Warwick HIV patient told the lawmakers how he would make his way, frail and in pain, from his suburban apartment to the streets of Providence in search of a drug dealer, and how, the first time he went, he was robbed.“Licensing a nonprofit compassion center would solve the problems by allowing a safe, state-regulated place for patients to get their medicine,” said Rep. Thomas Slater, the sponsor of a matching House version of the bill.Earlier this year, New Mexico became the first and, thus far, the only state to license nonprofit producers of medical marijuana.An earlier version of the Rhode Island “compassion center” 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. The study commission was to evaluate patient access to marijuana, the definition of qualifying medical conditions and “the efficacy of compassion centers,” among other issues.In his veto message, Carcieri said the study would “move Rhode Island further down the path of weakening the laws governing — and public perception of — illicit drugs.” Citing a U.S. Supreme Court decision that held “that it is Congress’ constitutional responsibility to regulate the interstate drug market, whether legal or not,” he wrote: “I will not stand idly by as the state flagrantly violates federal law for the promotion of an illegal controlled substance.”A year ago, lawmakers cited their own concerns about a spate of federal raids on dispensaries in California. But new U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has publicly signaled that the Obama administration will no longer tolerate such raids.This year’s bill would again allow “compassion centers,” which it defines as a “not-for-profit entity ... that acquires, possesses, cultivates, manufactures, delivers, transfers, transports, supplies or dispenses marijuana, or related supplies and educational materials to registered qualifying patients.” Over time, as many as three centers could be licensed by the Health Department.To qualify, an individual would have to have cancer, HIV, Hepatitis C or some other “chronic or debilitating disease or medical condition” that by its nature, or because of the necessary treatment, produces chronic pain, severe nausea, seizures, persistent muscle spasms or what is described as “wasting syndrome.”Manter said he wishes lawmakers would endorse “people’s collectives” such as the eight-member club to which he belongs. He said some patients “are reluctant to take advantage of this low-cost patient-controlled system, because other entities are saying they are not legal, the law doesn’t address them, so therefore stay away. We are looking for it to be clearly defined in the law, as protected.”Source: Providence Journal, The (RI)Author:   Katherine Gregg, Journal State House Bureau Published: Thursday, April 23, 2009Copyright: 2009 The Providence Journal CompanyContact: letters projo.comWebsite: Medical Marijuana Archives
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Comment #1 posted by FoM on April 22, 2009 at 19:48:47 PT
Go Rhode Island
We really are living in amazing times.
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