More Questions Than Answers At Meeting
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More Questions Than Answers At Meeting
Posted by CN Staff on August 25, 2009 at 19:32:58 PT
By W. Zachary Malinowski, Journal Staff Writer 
Source: Providence Journal
Providence, R.I. -- About 60 people crowded into a basement auditorium in the Cannon Building Tuesday seeking answers about the formation of three “compassion centers,” where licensed patients would be able to buy marijuana. But it quickly became apparent that there were more questions than answers.Charles Alexandre, a top health official, and Gregory Madoian, a lawyer for the Health Department, patiently went through the recently revised community review draft of the Medical Marijuana Program legislation that lawmakers approved in June.
Along the way, those in attendance raised questions about dozens of provisions in the 22-page document.With a few exceptions, Alexandre and Madoian could not provide details beyond the printed law before them.An eclectic group showed up for the meeting. There were young professionals in sport coats and ties, aging hippies with gray ponytails and tattoos, 20-something men in backward baseball caps and women who ranged in age from their early 20s to almost 70.The group also included at least one physician and a ranking officer from the Rhode Island State Police.Most of them are among the state’s 900 licensed medical marijuana users, or part of the 725 or so licensed caregivers who are allowed to grow up to 24 marijuana plants for patients who have been approved for the medicinal marijuana program.Capt. David S. Neill, state police detective commander, peppered Alexandre with a series of questions about the compassion centers. In response, Alexandre conceded that the Health Department “registers” caregivers and patients, but “we don’t go out in the community” and conduct inspections.Alexandre also said that the Health Department conducts Bureau of Criminal Identification, BCI, checks on those involved in the medical marijuana program, but he also conceded that no checks are made through the National Criminal Identification Center, or NCIC. The BCI check covers only someone arrested and convicted in Rhode Island.Under the law, anyone with a felony drug conviction is barred from the program or working at a compassion center, but Neill pointed out that a BCI check would show no evidence of a felony conviction outside of Rhode Island.Another man in attendance wondered if a compassion center could use a van to ship drugs to South County for patients. Neill spoke up and said that criminals could target the van and steal the marijuana.Mike Paliotta, a licensed caregiver, said that he is interested in opening a compassion center, possibly in the West End of Providence. He asked what kind of security system the law will require — steel doors, card security, video cameras?Alexandre did not have an answer.Another asked Alexandre about a passage in the law that prohibits a compassion center from operating within 500 feet of a school. He wondered if a licensed daycare center or home daycare center would qualify as a school.Alexandre did not have an answer.Kirk Manter, plant manager for the Rhode Island Compassion Club, had a question about what the compassion center would do with excess marijuana after someone else asked whether, “I can give the leftover marijuana to other patients.” Said Alexandre: “The statute doesn’t speak to that.”William P. Dundulis Jr., of the Health Department, said that there may be another informal question-and-answer meeting before a final public hearing in the coming months. He said that it’s a safe bet that the first compassion center will not be ready to open until sometime next year.Source: Providence Journal, The (RI)Author: W. Zachary Malinowski, Journal Staff Writer Published: Wednesday, August 26, 2009Copyright: 2009 The Providence Journal CompanyContact: letters projo.comWebsite: Articles:Security Debated for RI Medical Marijuana Stores Moves Toward Marijuana Centers
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