R.I. House Speaker To Ask Feds For Marijuana Guidance


Steven Senne/AP
Rhode Island Speaker of the House Gordon D. Fox: “I think it’s been too long and there have been too many people waiting”

​Rhode Island’s Legislature legalized medical marijuana back in 2006. Three years later, in 2009, the Legislature overrode a gubernatorial veto to allow medicinal cannabis dispensaries in the state with an overwhelming 68-0 vote in the House and 35-3 in the Senate.

That certainly seems clear enough, and it’s been a couple of years now. Haven’t they had time to get that program up and running for seriously ill patients? But, well, you know how silly the federal government can be, when it comes to that oh-so-dangerous boogie bear “marijuana.” It’s still against federal law, doncha know? So please don’t get any wacky ideas about the people trying to run things.

That’s the situation, basically, since Governor Lincoln Chafee blinked in the aggressive faces of the Feds, announcing he was putting on hold the licenses that were granted to the three compassion centers authorized by the Legislature back in 2009. That’s why, as of right now, there are still no operating dispensaries for the patients of Rhode Island.

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Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee blinked when the Feds threatened his state’s dispensary plans

​Now, Rhode Island House Speaker Gordon D. Fox is taking the bull by the horns. Fox said he’ll personally petition the federal Department of Justice (DOJ) to see how his state can open the dispensaries that patients and advocates have sought for so long, reports Philip Marcelo at the Providence Journal.
Fox (D-Providence), displaying some actual leadership in a state that could surely use some, said he disagrees with Governor Chafee’s decision to halt the process of issuing the state’s first medical marijuana dispensary licenses.
Many states, including Rhode Island, have received threatening letters from U.S. Attorneys that even state-licensed facilities would be in violation of the federal Controlled Substances Act, under which cannabis is nonsensically considered a dangerous Schedule I narcotic with no medical uses.
But governors in some states are proceeding with the dispensaries anyway (see Colorado, New Mexico, and Maine) while others (Rhode Island’s Chafee and Washington’s Gregoire among them) seem just a little too intimidated by the big bad Feds to step up to the plate and lead.
That’s where Speaker Fox comes in.
“I plan on going to the federal government to ask them: ‘What do you need it to look like?’,” Fox said on Tuesday afternoon. “Because I think it’s been too long and there have been too many people waiting.”
Currently in Rhode Island, medical marijuana patients get their cannabis from “caregivers” who are licensed to grow and sell small amounts of the herb.