NEW: Lawmakers to Take Up Medical Marijuana Bill Next Week

Monday, March 19, 2012


Legislation to allow medical marijuana compassion centers to open in the state, by adding stricter limits on how they function, will be heard by the House Committee on Health, Education and Welfare and the Senate Committee on Health & Human Services when the committee meets on Wednesday, March 28.

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The House HEW Committee will meet in Room 313 of the State House, beginning at the Rise of the House (approximately 5 p.m.).

The Senate HHS Committee will meet in the Senate Lounge of the State House, beginning at the Rise of the Senate (approximately 4:30 p.m.).

The House bill, 2012-H 7888, was sponsored by Rep. Scott Slater (D-Dist. 10, Providence). The Senate bill, 2012-S 2555, was sponsored by Sen. Rhoda E. Perry (D-Dist. 3, Providence). The bills amend “The Edward O. Hawkins and Thomas C. Slater Medical Marijuana Act.”

After the General Assembly approved legislation in 2009 to create compassion centers, over former Gov. Donald Carcieri’s veto, Gov. Lincoln D. Chafee ordered a halt to the licensing process last year because of concerns that the federal government would target the centers or patients using their services.

As a result of an agreement recently reached between legislative leaders and the governor, Senator Perry and Representative Slater introduced the bills to be heard today, to clear the way to allow three compassion centers to open while protecting them from being shut down or raided by federal agents.

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.

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.


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