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Proposed bill would amend R.I. medical-marijuana law

01:00 AM EST on Wednesday, February 16, 2011

By Philip Marcelo
Journal State House Bureau

PROVIDENCE –– A Providence lawmaker has again submitted a bill that would phase out the practice of using individually licensed suppliers, known as caregivers, to grow or keep marijuana for patients, as well as close what he says are significant loopholes in the state’s medical-marijuana laws.

The proposal, which state Rep. John M. Carnevale, D-Providence, submitted on Tuesday, would require that, effective Jan. 1, 2013, the growing and selling of medical marijuana would be allowed only in state-sanctioned dispensaries known as compassion centers.

The state Department of Health is in the process of selecting the group that will open the state’s first such center.

Under the current medical-marijuana law, a patient legally allowed to use marijuana can either grow the plant at home (up to a maximum of 12 mature plants) or he or she can designate a “caregiver,” an individual who is licensed to grow marijuana in larger quantities (up to 24 mature marijuana plants). A caregiver can only provide marijuana for up to five registered medical-marijuana patients.

Carnevale says his bill, which he first submitted last year, would address the abuse and crime that have plagued communities since the enactment of the Edward O. Hawkins and Thomas C. Slater Medical Marijuana Act in 2006.

Last year, Carnevale, along with fellow retired Providence police officer and former state Rep. Joseph Almeida, submitted the bill close on the heels of a Providence Journal story about Orlando Martino, a Providence man with a record of drug arrests who, at the time, was seeking to have drug-possession charges dismissed based on his approval, months after his arrest, for a medical-marijuana card.

Martino pleaded no contest in June 2010 to a single felony count of possession of marijuana and was sentenced to two years, of which 3 months would be served in the Adult Correctional Institutions in Cranston, and 21 months suspended.

Carnevale argues that in the months since, medical-marijuana-related crimes — from armed break-ins to house fires related to growing marijuana indoors to caregivers and patients illegally growing and selling marijuana for profit — have increased.

“We can’t control what happens in individual homes,” he said Monday. “What it has created is a dangerous situation for the law-abiding citizens in our neighborhoods.”

Like last year’s version, Carnevale’s bill would also amend the law between now and when the caregivers would be eliminated from the medical-marijuana pipeline.

One such proposal would bar the state from registering anyone with a capital offense or felony drug conviction as a caregiver. Another would repeal the law that currently allows registered patients and caregivers to share marijuana with other registered patients or caregivers, as long as no money is exchanged.

“If we’re treating it like a medicine, why are we letting people swap it back and forth? Do we let patients swap Vicodin?” he said.

Other significant changes include having the state police, rather than the Health Department, conduct regular inspections and records reviews at compassion centers. The bill, which has been referred to the House Judiciary Committee, would also allow for a majority, rather than all, of the principal officers and board members of a compassion center to be Rhode Island residents.



  1. “If we’re treating it like a medicine, why are we letting people swap it back and forth? Do we let patients swap Vicodin?”

    The fact is you are not treating this like any other medicine. Dose Health insurance help pay for it as it does Vicodin? Are patients with licenses from the state to use medical marijuana allowed to do so when they are admitted to the state hospital? What other medicine are you allowed to use at home, but denied the use of when you are at your sickest? You do not allow patients to swap Vicodin but with that said, is it not a problem? I see the ad campaign currently going on which points out that the medicine cabinet is the new drug dealer. There are known problems with prescription medications but I do not see you wanting to have the state police run checks on patients with reoccurring prescriptions for Vicodin.
    The real problem is the state Department of Health is in the process of selecting who will be the state’s first “compassion center” which if allowed under what is currently suggested; a supply of enough medicine for what could be only a few days at a price in the area of $400. Currently caregivers supply the same amount for a fraction of the cost. Seems like there will be many extra profits for all those who help make it happen. Compassion is sympathy for someone else’s distress with the desire to alleviate it, but our compassion center seems to want to make it more difficult for us, and profit from our despair. I will agree that the laws do have issues and should be re thought, but forcing a state mandated monopoly on something that some people cannot live an ordinary life without is not the change we need.

  2. I agree with the gentleman above me. This state has too many unemployment and poverty issues to try and privatize medicine that is predominantly distributed to the sick who are too bed ridden to provide for themselves. I know a fellow patient allotted a little less than 700 a month from his ssi check. half of that he needs for his medicine or he will die. Plain truth. These compassion centers projections seem a little outlandish and not realistic for the sociasl and economic climate that thsi state currently is saturated in.

    • All vicodin and penicillin are the same . There are many different kinds of marijuana that relieve certain ailments . MS and cancer require different strains. your statement is totally generic and elementary !!

    • Have you ever watched someone with glaucoma or tourrettes before and after a joint? No, so shut your mouth and mind your business you ignorant fuck. OoOohh yes, its a good excuse for burnouts to use to justify themselves using marijuana.. thanks for pointing that out for everyone, you’re an absolute genius! No, get off it you smug fucking prick. My dog would fucking rape your dog. Think about it.. if your brain still functions after years of being brainwashed by whatever fucking maniacs told you it was worthwhile to speak out against marijuana use in America.. are you against the consumption of alcohol too? You’d better be you fucking lame brain hypocrite.

  3. These new changes to the law are scary and I think it would violate patients rights… it would also be a monopoly for these people who license and own them. This is the most downright evil thing they could think off and and 1000% against the new changes to 7275 bill …

    Also this would affect you non medical tax paying citizens of RI would has to pay for all the hundres if not thousands of raids that would go on for more then a year to make sure every licensed patient and caregiver stop growing.. the big point the DOH would be forced to give up documents on where they live and what not.. we want are free medicine and love all benefits of growing its relaxing I get to make edibles and all types of hash for free and I need that potent stuff for major back problems .. I would be broke paying 35+ for gram of hash daily …
    All the grow shops would go out of business it would be a sad sad day in RI I would see alotta friends lose there jobs…The economy would tank even more;(:(

    WE need to start a petition now so when 2012 comes around if where not all gone we will have major number of signatures ……

    • How bad will it hurt you if I had 6 pot plants growing in the house next door to yours. Shut your mouth you pussy. Take a long hard look at your life, and maybe you’ll pull that long hard stick out of your ass and wake the fuck up. you laugh at people like myself, but if you and I were in a room of 100, I’d have the majority vote for the all around better man. Your wife would rather I take care of her sexual needs.. two minute conversation with her, all I would need pal. Happy trails

  4. Real people can swap anything they want with who ever they want, what planet do you live on, you get real….. also drug companys create jobs and tax dollars for things like schools, just like taxing medical marijuana would do.

  5. I spoke with the Department of Health and they informed me that it is not right that patients are being charged for their medication and that is the reason why they want caregivers gone. They stated that patients are being taken advantage of by being charged. So, their solution is to get rid of caregivers and take over by charging the patients themselves . Can anybody say Monopoly!!

    I’ve been growing for 20+years and never charged a sick patient for their meds. Maybe a little, for electricity.

  6. if the caregivers are selling it, why not tax them on the sales??? its the same thing as being self-employed and running a business

    • no silly, its the same thing as running a non profit organization.. so it’s very different from being self-employed and running a business. NON-PROFIT = NO TAX..

  7. these lawmakers have no idea how inaccessible and the astronomic price of signing on with a compassion center-roughly $300, let alone the cost to buy even small quanities from them. I am grateful to have an honest caregiver who gives me a discount due to being on a fixed income. I deeply oppose this bill and would urge others to begin a petition to block its passage. These lawmakers have no clue about humanity. They can only see visions of dollar signs dancing in their heads. There is power in numbers and should we start a petition, I would gladly sign it to protect my rights as a patient as well as those who are caregivers. There are few incidents of abuse and those can be reported to the Dept. of Health. The only thing I can see this bill doing is to make access for those on fixed incomes left without this medicine.


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