Rhode Island’s medical marijuana program continues to be thwarted from being fully realized as Governor Lincoln Chafee (I) has kept the licenses granted to three medi-pot dispensaries “on hold” for several months. The medical marijuana dispensaries involved were selected by the state Health Department earlier this spring.
Gov Chafee’s actions stem from a correspondence he received in April from Rhode Island’s U.S. Attorney Peter F. Neronha, warning that those involved in the state’s medical marijuana dispensary program could be federally prosecuted on both criminal and civil charges for participating in “large-scale drug production.”
In response to Gov. Chafee’s inaction, last week the Rhode Island Medical Society came out publicly by sending a letter to Chafee and Health Dept Director Michael Fine, strongly encouraging them to issue the suspended licenses, underscoring that implementation of the three dispensaries is necessary as “a source of mechanism for patients to obtain their marijuana in a safe and legal manner.”
Gov Chafee’s spokeswoman said the governor has yet to review the letter and that Chafee’s staff is monitoring whether other medical marijuana states that have received similar federal threats are issuing dispensary licenses. Apparently they haven’t monitored New Jersey lately; in July, Republican Governor Christopher Christie granted the licenses to allow the six dispensaries chosen there to begin operations.
Rhode Island presently has over 3,900 pot patients with some 200 new patients added to the program monthly, and while there are almost 2,500 caregivers at present (each can grow up to 24 plants for five patients max), medical cannabis advocates such as the R.I. Medical Society insist that establishing the dispensaries be a top priority.
Ex-NBA shooting guard Cuttino Mobley is the sole financier of one of the dispensaries waiting for a license, the Summit Medical Compassion Center in Warwick R.I., and Mobley’s involvement is profiled in an upcoming issue of HIGH TIMES magazine.