Update: Chafee puts end to medical marijuana dispensaries
5:31 PM Thu, Sep 29, 2011
W. Zachary Malinowski projo.com
Who has 2 thumbs and guaranteed unemployment next term? That guy……-UA
The decision comes after five months of delays and indecision by Chafee’s office on how they willl proceed with issuing licenses to three dispensaries that were selected by the state Department of Health last spring.
“After much internal and external discussion and research, I have decided that the State of Rhode Island cannot proceed with the licensing and regulation of medical marijuana compassion centers under current law,” Chafee said in a statement.
Thousands of patients in the state program had been awating the opening of the dispensaries, hoping that they would have a safe, secure and reliable place to buy the drug to cope with ailments like cancer, glaucoma and chronic pain.
Continue to the next screen to read Chafee’s full statement:
After much internal and external discussion and research, I have decided that the State of Rhode Island cannot proceed with the licensing and regulation of medical marijuana compassion centers under current law.
This has been a difficult decision. I believe that patients with debilitating medical conditions such as cancer, glaucoma and AIDS should have safe, reliable and well-regulated access to marijuana for therapeutic purposes. Rhode Island has a card and caregiver law currently in place for distributing medical marijuana to patients in need. I have met with and heard from advocate groups and patients that this existing system has serious flaws. In 2009, in an effort to address these flaws, the General Assembly passed a new law authorizing the cultivation and distribution of medical marijuana through three state-registered and regulated compassion centers. The Governor’s constitutional duty is to implement laws passed by the General Assembly and I take that obligation very seriously.
Unfortunately, Rhode Island’s compassion center law is illegal under paramount federal law. And, while the United States Attorney in each district is given some discretion in the local enforcement of federal laws, I have received communications from both the United States Department of Justice and from the United States Attorney for the District of Rhode Island that large scale commercial operations such as Rhode Island’s compassion centers will be potential targets of “vigorous” criminal and civil enforcement efforts by the federal government. I cannot implement a state marijuana cultivation and distribution system which is illegal under federal law and which will become a target of federal law enforcement efforts. Federal injunctions, seizures, forfeitures, arrests and prosecutions will only hurt the patients and caregivers that our law was designed to protect.
I remain committed to improving the existing medical marijuana cultivation and distribution system in Rhode Island. I am hopeful that the General Assembly will introduce new legislation in the upcoming session that will address the flaws in, and indeed make improvement to, the existing medical marijuana card and caregiver system while not triggering federal enforcement actions. I pledge to work with advocates, patients and members of the General Assembly towards that end.