In the face of new legislation that would make state-sanctioned medical marijuana dispensaries or "compassion centers" smaller than originally envisioned, Rhode Island US Attorney Peter Neronha - who warned of a crackdown on the planned dispensaires last year - says that his position has not changed His statement in full, issued this morning:
“The policies and position of the Department of Justice on enforcement of the Controlled Substances Act in jurisdictions that have under consideration, or have implemented, legislation that would sanction and regulate the commercial cultivation and distribution of marijuana purportedly for medical use, have not changed. Therefore, we have not nor do we intend to review or discuss legislation on this topic which, according to media reports, was recently submitted for consideration by the Rhode Island Legislature. To be clear, at no time has there been any contact or communication between any state official and this Office concerning any such legislation.”
And so, let the parsing begin. Neronha's language, as always, is tough. But the Obama Administration's official pronouncements on medical marijuana in the last year have suggested that size matters. Advocates, no doubt, will see this reaffirmation of federal policy as a green light for smaller-scale dispensaries.
The truth is, we'll never know what Neronha's office might do until the compassion centers open their doors.