Haze Clearing over New England
By: Matty S. Ville, Releaf Magazine
PROVIDENCE- The New England cannabis law reform movement has been active this week. While the stock market is falling, medical cannabis is on the rise despite a lacking economy and a recent tightening of the Obama administrations views on the medicine. Friday Governor Dannel Malloy signed HB 5389 “THE PALLIATIVE USE OF MARIJUANA ACT” in to law. This law is written to allow for cannabis to be distributed through licensed pharmacists to qualifying patients. The list of qualifying conditions is limited, not including the condition of “chronic pain” that is the source of many questionable medical cannabis recommendations in the 16 other states that have passed similar laws. The patients will be supplied by at least three but no more that 10 producers. Remember that the recent federal raids have mostly targeted large scale producers and retailers of medical marijuana. If the seemingly strict regulations and tight list of qualifying patients will
these ten producers be small enough to stay in the shadows of the impending spotlight shining on Connecticut by the Obama/Kerlikowske tag team duo.
Also in recent news New Hampshire Governor John Lynch says he will veto the bill recently passed through the Senate. He feels there is lack of control over the distribution of cannabis to patients while he does feel compassion for the sick who believe cannabis as medicine can help them. The New Hampshire public is polling strongly in favor of cannabis for the sick.
Will Connecticut’s new law be the model for states like New Hampshire on the verge of passing laws to take the plunge into the fight for the states right to regulate cannabis for medical purposes as Obama touted in his 2007-2008 campaign for President. Only time will tell but until then bravo to Connecticut and to those up there Live Free or Die seems to exclude the right to toke the pain away…For now?
RI lawmakers approve medical marijuana plan
The measure now heads to Gov. Lincoln Chafee, who is expected to sign it into law. Once that happens dispensaries could be open within several months.
Under the bill, dispensaries would be allowed to possess up to 1,500 ounces of marijuana. The proposal would also allow law enforcement to inspect dispensaries and give the state police a seat on the board overseeing the facilities. All three provisions were added to assuage the concerns of federal authorities.
“This is a work in progress,” said the bill’s House sponsor, Rep. Scott Slater, D-Providence. “There are caps in place. ... I think once people see these compassion centers up and running and helping so many people, they’ll be proud.”
The House voted 64-7 Wednesday to pass its version of the legislation. It then approved the Senate version, too, sending the proposal to Chafee’s desk.
Three state-authorized dispensaries were planning to open last year when Rhode Island’s U.S. Attorney Peter Neronha warned they could face criminal prosecution for violating federal drug laws. Chafee halted the process, and then worked with lawmakers this year on the compromise.
While supporters are optimistic, there’s no guarantee the new rules will satisfy federal authorities.
After the Senate approved its version of the bill last week, Neronha issued a statement indicating that the U.S. Justice Department remains concerned about “large-scale commercial cultivation and distribution” of marijuana. Neronha warned last year that while patients wouldn’t face prosecution, dispensary operators might.
More than 4,400 Rhode Islanders are now enrolled in the state’s medical marijuana program.
State law allows patients to legally possess small amounts of marijuana to treat conditions including chronic pain, severe nausea, seizures and multiple sclerosis.
In 2009, lawmakers passed legislation to set up compassion centers where patients could obtain marijuana in a state-regulated environment.
Medical Marijuana Vote Set for Today
Dan McGowan, GoLocalProv News Editor
Members of the House Committee on Health, Education and Welfare today are expected to vote on legislation that would allow medical marijuana compassion centers to open Rhode Island.
The House bill, which is sponsored by Rep. Scott Slater (D-Dist. 10, Providence) and the Senate version is sponsored by Sen. Rhoda Perry (D-Dist. 3, Providence). The bills amend “The Edward O. Hawkins and Thomas C. Slater Medical Marijuana Act.”
The General Assembly first approved legislation to create compassion centers in 2009, but Governor Chafee ordered a temporary halt to the licensing process last year when the federal government suggested it might begin targeting the centers or patients using their services.
But as a result of an agreement reached earlier this year between legislative leaders and the governor, Slater and Perry were given the green light to continue to move compassion centers forward. The bill would clear the way to allow three compassion centers to open while protecting them from being shut down or raided by federal agents.
Chafee Will Sign Bill
Governor Chafee, who faced criticism from those in the medical marijuana community for deferring to the federal government, has indicated he will sign Slater and Perry's legislation into law if it is approved by the General Assembly.
“Since the Rhode Island medical marijuana law invited federal action, I have been working with advocates on a remedy,” Chafee said earlier this year. “I applaud Senator Perry and Representative Slater for their work and I look forward to passage of a bill that will avoid federal intervention and bring needed medicinal relief to those who stand to benefit.”
Bill Regulates Limits on Growing Amount
The legislation will allow the Department of Health to regulate limits on the amount of marijuana that a compassion center may grow and possess, since the magnitude of the marijuana and the resulting income it generates for privately run compassion centers appears to be a key element of concern for federal officials. It also allows registered patients or caregivers who grow up to their allotted maximums, but do not need the entire amount for themselves or their patients, to sell the excess to a compassion center, as long as the limits of the grower and the purchasing center are not exceeded. That provision is designed to address concerns about the illegal sale of excess marijuana.
“This is a good compromise that strengthens the safety of compassion centers," Slater said earlier this year "We just want patients to get some relief, soon. While we believe the existing law is good, this change will make it better by making our centers less of an issue for the federal government. Nobody in Rhode Island would want to see patients get caught up in some federal raid or lose access to their medicine, and if these changes further minimize that issue, they are positive for patients."
The three centers that were already approved by the Department of Health after a public bidding process to be licensed will be able to operate under the new limits, so it is expected the centers will be able to open quickly upon passage and enactment of the legislation.
“Our main concern is getting compassion centers up and running for the many suffering patients who still have no legal way to obtain their prescription medicine,” said Senator Perry. “It’s been three years now since we approved compassion centers. That’s a long time for patients to wait for relief from pain and illness. We already have three legitimate organizations that have been approved and are ready and willing to serve Rhode Island’s patients and the quicker we move on these amendments, the less time Rhode Island’s sick and dying will spend suffering."
Click on Magazine to see December 2011 Issue!!!!
R.I. judge upholds gun rights of medical-pot growers'
Co-ops are a problem when scum abuse the program (djstone). Two caregivers sharing a space keeps numbers below federal limits. Get over it Kilmartin. -UA
01:00 AM EDT on Monday, May 16, 2011
By Katie Mulvaney projo
PROVIDENCE — A recent Cranston case that tested the state’s medical-marijuana law raises a question about whether people with the right to grow or possess marijuana to treat illnesses risk being jailed for owning a gun, even if they own it lawfully.
The issue grew from Dean Derobbio’s arrest in January 2010 for allegedly conspiring with his roommate to possess marijuana with the intent to sell it. He was also charged with carrying a dangerous weapon while committing a crime of violence. The crime of violence was growing marijuana, according to prosecutors and the police, and the charge carries a mandatory three years in prison for a defendant convicted of a first offense.
The police charged Derobbio’s roommate, Joseph Joubert, with conspiracy and possessing marijuana with the intent to deliver.
Derobbio held a patient card issued by the state Department of Health to use marijuana to treat severe pain caused by ruptured disks in his back, and he legally owned a 9mm pistol he kept in his nightstand, according to his lawyer, Michael F. Campopiano. Joubert had a primary-caregiver card, allowing him under the state’s medical-marijuana act passed by lawmakers in 2006 to grow marijuana for Derobbio.
The law spells out how much marijuana a person can grow and possess, but says nothing about guns. It, too, does not specify whether a patient can have two caregivers growing marijuana for him, as Derobbio did.
Superior Court Judge Robert D. Krause seized upon those omissions in tossing out the charges earlier in May.
“In my opinion,” Krause said, “this is a poorly drafted statute, and I don’t think ... a defendant ought to be criminally liable for inartful draftsmanship.”
He rejected the state’s argument that Derobbio could be pursued on the gun charge even if the court found he had the right to possess the marijuana and the pistol.
“If I were to find that there was nothing unlawful about what these defendants had done by way of the medical-marijuana statute, and that they were within the framework of the statute, and did not exceed the amount of plants that are authorized, would you still pursue the prosecution [of the gun charge]?” Krause asked Special Assistant Attorney General Michael McCarthy at the May 4 hearing.
“With all due respect, your honor, I would,” McCarthy said. He explained that he would prosecute it under a law that says you cannot legally grow marijuana while being in possession of a firearm.
“And, your honor, if you are cultivating marijuana, and if you are in possession of a firearm, even though [the medical-marijuana act] has stated you can grow marijuana, it is silent as to whether or not you can possess a firearm,” McCarthy said, according to a transcript of the hearing.
Krause continued, “If you meet the requirements, if you have possession of plants that are within the legal limit under this marijuana act, and if you have a firearm at home, and you’re not a convicted felon, both of these are legal, yes?”
“Yes,” McCarthy said.
“But, nonetheless, you claim it’s criminal conduct.” Krause said.
“As is being intoxicated in possession of a firearm,” McCarthy said.
In the end, Krause found that the 33 mature plants being grown at the 101 Marlow St. house by Joubert and his mother, Marie Joubert, fell within the legal limits of the medical-marijuana law since caregivers can have 24 plants apiece.
The Jouberts were both caregivers to Derobbio, though the police said Marie had never been in the house, and she could not identify which plants were hers.
“The statute doesn’t make it unlawful for two caregivers to have the same patient, does it?” Krause said, adding “What a wonderfully drafted statute we have. I don’t know who drafted this thing.”
Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin’s office plans to appeal Krause’s ruling with regard to the number of plants allowed at the house under the law, according to Stacey P. Veroni, criminal division chief. “Nobody can have collectively, or otherwise, more than 24 plants,” Veroni said.
Asked whether McCarthy’s position on Derobbio’s gun charge indicated the state’s stance, Kilmartin’s spokeswoman Amy Kempe said the appellate division was reviewing the matter.
To Campopiano, one can infer the state’s position from McCarthy’s comments. “It’s what they said, and I find it shocking,” he said.
“It appears that the state is trying to circumvent the legislation’s intent,” he said. As written, the law protects qualified patients and caregivers from arrest and criminal prosecution as long as they are abiding by the medical-marijuana law. Today, there are just over 3,400 licensed patients in Rhode Island, and 2,200 licensed caregivers.
“Judge Krause is absolutely interpreting it right,” he said.
Kilmartin, who voted in favor of the medical-marijuana bill as a state lawmaker, plans to introduce legislation to tighten up the medical-marijuana laws. Senior lawyers there were working on modifications. “This collective-grow issue is an issue,” Veroni has said.
Ok everyone........now is the time to make your voice heard........-UA
US Attorney to Chafee: Medical-pot centers violate US law
fri 4/29/11 projo.com
PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- U.S. Attorney Peter Neronha has told Governor Chafee that the state law establishing three medical-marijuana centers violates federal law and could lead to civil and criminal prosecution.
The three-page letter was hand-delivered to the governor's office Friday afternoon.
"The Act, the registration scheme it purports to authorize, and the anticipated operation of the three centers appear to permit large-scale marijuana cultivation and distribution," Neronha wrote.
"Accordingly, the Department of Justice could consider civil and criminal legal remedies against those individuals and entities who set up marijuana growing facilities and dispensaries, as such actions are in violation of federal law."
For one thing, the letter said, under federal law it is illegal to manufacture, distribute or possess with intent to distribute marijuana, or use property to manufacture, store or distribute the drugs.
01:00 AM EDT on Wednesday, March 23, 2011
By W. Zachary Malinowski / PROJO
Bruce Vanicek, owner and operator of Rhode Island Nurseries, runs a highly successful business that grows wholesale shrubbery for suppliers along the Eastern seaboard and as far away as Chicago, Milwaukee and Detroit. The nursery, which has been around since the 19th century, covers about 500 acres on the outskirts of Newport.
Now, Vanicek is set to embark on a historic new adventure in Rhode Island: cultivating large quantities of marijuana for Greenleaf Compassionate Care Center, in Portsmouth, one of three dispensary organizations selected by the state Department of Health last week to sell medicinal marijuana.
“Sometimes, you have to pinch yourself,” he said. “You go home at night and think, ‘Wow! What am I doing?’ ”
Vanicek is not alone. He sets out on his new mission with growers, or horticulturists, at The Thomas C. Slater Compassion Center organization in Providence and Summit Medical Compassion Center group in Warwick. The three organizations are rushing to build-out or renovate their dispensary and cultivation sites as they get ready to sell marijuana to as many as 3,200 licensed patients in the state.
The marijuana will be grown inside expansive warehouse-type buildings and the first crop should be harvested sometime this summer.
The new venture raises questions about how the marijuana will be farmed in the state.
Vanicek and his wife, Kelly, have been licensed caregivers in the medical-marijuana program for about 1½ years. They grow a couple of dozen marijuana plants for seven patients. The Vaniceks contacted the Rhode Island Patient Advocacy Coalition about the program after they became interested in alternative forms of medicine.
Vanicek, who earned his bachelor’s degree in nursery management from Cornell University, gave some thought to applying to the Health Department for a dispensary license.
“I had visions that it would be really cool,” he said. “But, I realized that it would be too much for me.”
Instead, Dr. Seth Bock, an herbal physician, who is Greenleaf’s chief executive officer, reached out to Vanicek. He knew about Rhode Island Nurseries and Vanicek’s interest in medical marijuana.
Vanicek joined Greenleaf’s board of directors and agreed to oversee the dispensary’s marijuana production. He has some experience growing cannabis for his patients in the caregiving program, but it’s different from producing rows of shrubs for the family business.
“I wouldn’t call it easy,” he said. “It’s a learned skill, especially when you are growing medicinal marijuana.”
Vanicek said that he is in the process of collecting clones or cuttings from his own marijuana plants or from other caregivers he has met in the state program. Those plant parts are then placed in small pots of water where they develop root systems. Once the roots are strong enough, the plants are transferred to larger pots with soil.
Vanicek will grow sativa, a strain of marijuana that gives users an energetic high, a sensation that is more in line for daytime use. He also will grow indica, a different strain that is used to relax a patient and cope with anxiety and stress. Both strains are commonly used to deal with physical pain.
JoAnne Lepannen, executive director of the Rhode Island Patient Advocacy Coalition, said it’s difficult to pinpoint which variety of marijuana works for each patient. “There are so many factors we don’t understand. There are so many variables we don’t understand. It really is a process of trial and error.”
The varieties of sativa and indica will be produced at Greenleaf’s 60-by-40 foot cultivation site in an industrial park in Portsmouth. Vanicek said that he will launch the first grow with 10 different varieties of marijuana plants. Over the next few months, Greenleaf will try to attract patients to their dispensary.
Each dispensary will be allowed to grow 12 plants for each patient who registers with them. For example, if Greenleaf gets 100 patients, they will be allowed under state law to grow 1,200 plants. More patients means the dispensary can grow more plants.
Vanicek said that he still has to figure out how much electricity and water will be needed to grow the marijuana in soil and through hydroponic water systems.
In Providence, Gerald J. McGraw Jr., chairman of the Slater compassion center, has hired two young growers to cultivate his marijuana crop in a warehouse in the city’s north end. They are Stephen Doyle, 27, who earned a degree in horticulture from the University of Rhode Island, and Alex Liebster, 25. He moved to Rhode Island from Florida with his family about three years ago. They are both caregivers who grow marijuana for several patients.
The trio will work closely with Dr. Susan Audino, Slater’s director of quality assurance and quality control. She has an extensive background in chemistry and will monitor the cannabinoid content, or potency, of the marijuana.
McGraw, Doyle and Liebster are developing 25 marijuana strains — sativa, indica and hybrids — for the patients they hope to attract this spring and summer.
“The broader of a menu we have, the better we can serve our patients,” McGraw said. Like Vanicek, the Slater growers have obtained plant samples from other patients and caregivers in the state medical-marijuana program. They preserve and clone the plants they like for production.
As a rule, it takes 8 to 10 weeks to grow indica, which tend to be short, stocky plants with dark green leaves. Flowering time for sativa can take anywhere from 10 to 16 weeks.
But Liebster and Doyle said that some tropical strains are quite finicky and can take more than 20 weeks to reach harvest.
McGraw has bought 800 Botany-In-A-Box, kits from Grosca, an indoor horticultural supplier in Providence to get his cultivation center up and running as soon as possible. The boxes contain lamps, shades, ballasts and other equipment essential for growing marijuana indoors. He hopes to have about 500 patients when the Slater center opens for business in September. If so, that would allow him to grow 6,000 plants in their 15,000-square-foot warehouse.
“We are ready to pull the trigger,” Doyle said.
Summit will have the biggest grow center in the state, an 18,000-square-foot indoor hydroponic farm in Warwick. They plan to harvest their first crops in the fall, and that will be followed by a “systematic perpetual growth cycle,” producing mature marijuana plants every five to six weeks.
Greenleaf, Slater and Summit have yet to begin the process of growing marijuana, but the state’s 2,000 caregivers have been cultivating the drug for years for the licensed users they supply. Their cottage industry will continue with the introduction of dispensaries, which are intended to give medical-marijuana users an easier access to supply.
One of those caregivers, who did not want to be identified because his landlord does not know that he’s growing marijuana, lives in the West Bay with his wife and two small children. He works in a local record store and grows marijuana in the basement of his home for three patients. Two of them don’t have cars, so he delivers the marijuana to their homes in Warwick, Pawtucket and Central Falls.
The caregiver produces about 3 to 4 ounces of marijuana each month for the three patients. He said that he collects a total of about $200 to $300 from them.
“We’re not trying to make a living off of this,” he said. “This is about health and medicine.”
He knows people in the local marijuana grow community and they trade seeds or “cuttings,” clones of existing marijuana plants. He brings them home and keeps the leaves in Ziploc bags in his refrigerator.
He is also in the process of developing a new plant called, “Slater,” named after the late state Sen. Thomas C. Slater, D-Providence, who worked with Rep. Rhoda E. Perry, D-Providence, to develop the state’s medical-marijuana program.
“I give the seeds out to people and they grow them and get back to me,” he said.
In the basement, the caregiver has several areas of operation. In one spot, he has about a half-dozen plants floating in a small aquarium. He said that young plants are left in the aquarium until they develop root systems. Once that happens, he transfers the plants to 12-ounce plastic cups filled with organic top soil.
Artificial light beams down on the plants 18 to 24 hours a day.
After several weeks, the caregiver moves the plant to another section of the basement where there are 12 plants about 2-feet high behind a black plastic curtain. There, two 600-watt high-pressure sodium lights hang directly above the plants.
Ann Arbor’s medical marijuana regulations headed to council for final approval just in time for 4/20
Ann Arbor's medical marijuana regulations would limit the number of dispensaries inside the city limits to no more than 20, at least for the first year.
Ryan J. Stanton
After more than three months of deliberations, the Ann Arbor City Council voted for the first time Monday night to move a proposed medical marijuana licensing ordinance past first reading.
The vote came unanimously after some final tweaking of the ordinance, which regulates dispensaries and cultivation facilities within the city limits.
The ordinance now moves on for final approval on April 19, which is a Tuesday — a deviation from the council's normal Monday meeting night. A proposed medical marijuana zoning ordinance also is expected to come back for final approval the same night.
It wasn't planned, but the expected final approval comes just in time for 4/20, a sort of countercultural cannabis holiday when marijuana advocates throughout the country light up in celebration and, in some places, participate in events advocating for decriminalization of pot.
The City Council took action Monday night to extend the city's moratorium on medical marijuana businesses through June 30, giving the council some leeway on making a final decision if it should need it. The moratorium has been in place since last August.
City officials estimate there are about 15 to 18 dispensaries in Ann Arbor. They think there could be a few that won't be allowed at their current locations under the zoning ordinance.
The licensing ordinance would have the city doling out a limited number of dispensary and cultivation facility licenses once the moratorium is lifted.
Operations that were up and running prior to the moratorium last August would have up to 60 days after the ordinance takes effect to submit an application for an annual license. No other applications would be accepted until 75 days after the ordinance takes effect.
The first year’s licenses would be capped at a number 10 percent higher than the licenses applied for in the first 60 days, but not more than 20 dispensaries and 10 cultivation facility licenses. So, if there really are 15 to 18 dispensaries in Ann Arbor, and all of them seek licenses, no more than two additional licenses would be available to new dispensaries.
Council Member Sabra Briere, D-1st Ward, led the way Monday night as the council worked through a number of amendments to the licensing ordinance. Briere dropped her request for the city to adopt a non-disclosure policy on patient and caregiver information, noting that the reworked licensing ordinance doesn't involve the city collecting any personal information.
After some tweaking, the ordinance now states that a cultivation facility or dispensary must keep records of the caregivers from whom they receive marijuana in any form and must make the records available to the city upon request to promote health, safety or welfare or to otherwise verify compliance with the licensing ordinance.
Required labeling information, including coded patient and caregiver information, also must be kept and made available for inspection. Marijuana package labels must include the following:
- A unique alphanumeric identifier for the person to whom it is being delivered.
- A unique alphanumeric identifier for the cultivation source of the marijuana.
- Notice that the package contains marijuana.
- The date of delivery, weight, type of marijuana and dollar amount or other consideration being exchanged in the transaction.
- A certification that all marijuana in any form contained in the package was cultivated, manufactured and packaged in the state of Michigan.
- The name, address, email address and phone number of an authorized representative of the dispensary whom a patient can contact with any questions.
- The name, address, email address and phone number of at least one governmental or nonprofit organization that may be contacted by a patient who has concerns about substance abuse of drugs, including marijuana.
- A warning stating that the product is manufactured without any regulatory oversight for health or safety, and that there may be health risks associated with its use.
The council also tweaked the ordinance to state that license applicants must install signs in a visible location with the following statement in letters no less than an inch tall:
"The Michigan Medical Marihuana Act acknowledges that 'although federal law currently prohibits any use of marihuana except under very limited circumstances, states are not required to enforce federal law or prosecute people for engaging in activities prohibited by federal law. The laws of Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Vermont, Rhode Island and Washington do not penalize the medical use and cultivation of marihuana. Michigan joins in this effort for the health and wellness of its citizens.' See MCL 333.26422(c). If you have any questions or concerns please consult with your attorney."
The council voted in favor of an amendment proposed by Council Member Sandi Smith, D-1st Ward, to state that caregivers growing marijuana inside their own homes do not need licenses but may voluntarily register with the city by providing their home address.
"I don't know if anybody will choose to volunteer that information," Smith said, though she noted it could help make sure legitimate caregivers' homes aren't raided. "To avoid that, you could register. The police would know this was a caregiver's house."
The council also clarified duties of the proposed medical marijuana licensing board, which would be created through the ordinance. The licensing board would consist of one council member, one physician and three other Ann Arbor residents — all of whom would be appointed by the mayor. The board would review annually and recommend the licensing criteria, number of licenses, license fee structure, and approval of license applications.
"The board that you've established may want to look at the records to identify where this product is coming from," City Attorney Stephen Postema told council members, adding that could be to confirm that the marijuana is from Michigan or to investigate health complaints.
District Judge Daniel Kaup ruled today that the three medical marijuana dispensaries in Loveland suing the city and state because of a citywide ban have not proved they are entitled to an injunction allowing them to remain open.
Kaup said granting the injunction would be against the will of the voters and be a disservice to the public.
Attorneys representing the city of Loveland and state of Colorado presented closing arguments today, along with the plaintiffs' attorney, Rob Corry.
The defendants are Rocky Mountain Kind, Magic's Emporium and Colorado Canna Care, plus John and Jane Doe, medical marijuana patients. During Corry's closing argument, Kaup told him Amendment 20, which Colorado voters passed to legalize medical marijuana, does not apply to everyone.
Check back at LovelandConnection.com for more on this story.