Not so fast on medical marijuana


Considering the socially conservative ethos of the General Assembly, it was somewhat counter-intuitive when the legislature overrode Governor Carcieri's veto of a medical marijuana bill a few years back.

Yet if the Ocean State's smallness was a key role in the bill's passage, Smith Hill is still reluctant to sign off on the actual distribution of medical marijuana. Instead, in the last week of the session, the General Assembly approved a study of "compassion centers":

Jesse Stout, executive director of the Rhode Island Patient Advocacy Coalition, an advocacy group, describes the commission as a positive thing.

“This study could really tip the balance,” Stout says.  “We’re very optimistic about a bill’s passage in 2009, and the opening of compassion centers in Rhode Island by 2010.” ....

The bottom line, however, is that Rhode Island’s marijuana medical law remains a half-measure, even with an absence of the problems originally predicted by opponents.

George Des Roches has been a participant in the state’s medicinal marijuana program for one year. He suffers from Marfan’s syndrome, a connective tissue disorder, and he has faced the business end of a gun while buying marijuana on the street.

Des Roches estimates the cost involved in growing marijuana at between $3000 and $5000, for proper lights and equipment.

“Considering some of these patients can’t care for themselves, that’s a pretty daunting task,” he says, emphasizing the benefits of an autonomous compassion center. And pointing to those like himself, he adds, “This isn’t just a bunch of people getting stoned.”

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