Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Few speak up at R.I. medical marijuana public hearing

PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- In the nearly packed auditorium, only five voiced
their opinions on the proposed revisions to the Rhode Island medicinal
marijuana statute
9.345e46a.html) during a public hearing by the Department of Health.

Beyond two individuals, the rest of those who spoke were from advocacy
organizations: American Civil Liberties Union, the Rhode Island Medical
Marijuana Society, and the Rhode Island Patient Advocacy Coalition.

Joseph Young, a medical marijuana patient and caregiver, told the
audience that he'd like to see more input from patients in the process
for choosing the compassion center operators. He said that he has five
doctors controlling his care, but growing his own medicine is the only
part of his care that he has control over.

The revised statute would allow for one compassion center to open this
year, with a maximum of three centers operating at any time after 2010.
The centers will present plans on how they plan to obtain the medicinal
marijuana, including whether they plan to grow it on site, said Annmarie
Beardsworth, spokesperson for the Department of Health.

Interested parties can submit written comments to the Department of
Health for the next two weeks. After that, the department will make a
decision on how to proceed with the amended statute. They can either
file it as is with the Secretary of State, make minor grammatical
changes, make major changes, or not file it at all.

If substantive changes are made, another public hearing must be held. If
it is not filed at all, the current medicinal marijuana laws remain in
effect. If the amended statute is filed, it becomes law after 20 days.

Beardsworth said there are currently 966 licensed marijuana growers and
providers supplying the drug to 1,227 Department of Health-approved
patients, on the basis of medical-use applications signed by 345 doctors
across the state.

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