compassion centers

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Advocates for patients who use medical marijuana are protesting a new bill that would quash a key component of the state’s medical marijuana program. The new bill would eliminate caregivers.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

In the past few weeks, two medical marijuana patients in Rhode Island have faced legal problems arising from their use of the substance. The cases hinge on a conflict between federal and state laws. Now, new federal legislation seeks to address the problem.

A University of Rhode Island student has sued a Rhode Island textile company for denying her an internship. The suit claims discrimination based on the student’s status as a medical marijuana cardholder.

State lawmakers are scheduled to consider several marijuana-related bills this evening. At issue is expanding access to medical marijuana and, once again, legalizing the drug for anyone over the age of 21.

Seven marijuana-related bills are before the House Committee on Judiciary. One would legalize marijuana for all adults, regulating it like alcohol and taxing sales. That’s been proposed before and failed, but other states have since legalized it.

Rhode Island authorities are considering a new application for permission to open a medical marijuana consultancy. B & B Consulting bills itself as a first-of-its-kind medical marijuana "evaluation center."

Flo Jonic / RIPR

Rhode Island saw its first medical marijuana festival Sunday.  It was held in Providence in a parking lot on Kinsley Avenue.  About two dozen vendors sold marijuana paraphernalia and growing equipment.  It was sponsored by the Rhode Island Patient Advocacy Coalition, a group that fought to legalize medical marijuana in the state. 

Visiting the festival was Peter Benson of North Kingstown. Paralyzed in a bicycle accident, he takes marijuana to ease the pain of muscle spasms.

Friday is the first day of business for the first medical marijuana compassion center in Rhode Island.

There was a line out the door of the Thomas C. Slater Compassion Center in Providence, on opening day for the first medical marijuana dispensary here in Rhode Island.  The 1,600 square foot building houses cultivation and processing facilities as well as the center itself.

Despite state approval for the center, the federal government still classifies marijuana as illegal, said Chris Reilly, a spokesperson for the center.

Rhode Island’s first medical marijuana dispensary is set to open two weeks from today. The state health department has approved the permit for the Thomas C. Slater Compassion Center. 

The facility plans to grow its own marijuana but the first batch of medicine will be purchased from growers who participate in the state’s medical marijuana program. That’s because Slater wasn’t allowed to have any marijuana on hand while it awaited its final permits.

Two other dispensaries – in Warwick and Portsmouth – are awaiting state approval.

The Rhode Island Department of Health has issued the state's first certificate to operate to a medical marijuana retail store. The Thomas C. Slater compassion center must tell the department when it expects to begin selling marijuana to patients who qualify. But today's announcement means the center can officially open for business.

Thousands of patients with qualifying medical conditions have registered to be able to buy the drug. They don't need a prescription but do need a doctor to certify they're eligible.

In Rhode Island, medical marijuana is already legal, through people who are so-called “caregivers” selling to patients. The state has established three “compassion centers” that haven’t opened yet. In Massachusetts, regulators are still considering how to implement the law. Doctors there want tighter controls.

News from the RI Dept. of Health from spokeswoman Dara Chadwick about medical marijuana. They’re close to finalizing the regulations for compassion centers. She writes that “…one more review meeting will be held to finalize. After that, the regulations will be filed with the Secretary of State’s office.”

The three approved applicants must then submit their “Registration to Operate a Medical Marijuana Compassion Center.”

Meanwhile, a lawsuit has just been filed accusing the Dept. of reversing course, without warning, on who can prescribe medical marijuana.

Science Friday is airing right now (the 2 o’clock hour on Friday) on Rhode Island Public Radio. (Listen now.) The topic is the medical value of marijuana; a federal appeals court is set to hear arguments about its value next week. Host Ira Flatow is talking to an oncologist and a microbiologist about it. Fascinating.