Rhode Island Marijuana School Goes Up In Smoke

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Graphic: NESAHS
Class dismissed.

‚ÄčAn outfit previously billed as New England’s first medical marijuana school has decided to cancel its inaugural class and indefinitely postpone operations, citing concerns that the Rhode Island Department of Health has not offered its explicit approval.

The New England School of Alternative Horticultural Science’s founder, Luis Hernandez, pointed to a September 2 article in The Brown Daily Herald in which a spokeswoman for the Health Department expressed reservations and concerns about the school.
“From the Health Department’s point of view, our one concern is that accurate information is presented, not only about what the law permits in terms of growing (marijuana) but about the rules and regulations for caregivers and patients.”

Hmm… really doesn’t sound that threatening to me. Could there be more to the story? Could a more “direct” statement have been made, off the record, to Hernandez, by…?
In addition to The Herald‘s article, the planned school had received lots of media coverage.
Hernandez said he was unable to reach any official at the Health Department to seek the department’s “approval” of his business, reports Rebecca Ballhaus at The Brown Daily Herald — which is a tad strange, since there is no apparent requirement for the department to “approve” educational classes.
“I didn’t really get a response — not at all, not a thing,” Hernandez said. “I thought it would be a good idea to let them know that I’m not going to go teaching in your back yard until we get some communication going.”
Hernandez said he would be willing to reopen the school if he does receive approval from the Health Department.
He had always had concerns about the issue of state authorities, Hernandez said, but “sometimes the implications of these things don’t become clear to you until you’re down the road a bit,” he said.
“I got a better look at things, and (thought), ‘Oh, this is a much clearer picture — and I don’t know if I like it.’ “
He has neither the resources nor the time to deal with a lawsuit should it come to that, Hernandez said.
After consulting with an attorney, “we all came to the agreement that without the approval of the state there was nothing much further to do,” Hernandez said.
Hernandez said he was aware his planned school was “controversial,” but there was nothing illegal about it.
“We’re just showing somebody how to do something without hurting themselves,” Hernandez said. “You could almost argue that the state should be showing them how to not hurt themselves.”
Hernandez said he decided to err on the side of caution.
“Given the subject matter and the controversial factor of it, it would not be wise to move forward without the state’s (explicit) approval,” he said.
“I would love to help the community, and I think I have something of value to bring — there are a lot of accidents, fires, things like that, arising from the cultivation of marijuana,” Hernandez said, possibly overhyping a popular media meme.
“There was something there of value and still is something there of value for someone who wants to take on the powers that be to try to spearhead the (cause). But it’s not going to be me,” Hernandez said. “Frankly, I’d rather spend time with my daughter.” 
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