House Judiciary Committee Hears Bill and Holds it for Further Study

Tuesday night, the House Judiciary Committee held a hearing on House Bill 5823 (Attorney General Kilmartin’s bill), a bill that would make dramatic changes to the RI MMj program. A representative from the AG’s office said that the AG is no longer interested in reducing the number of cannabis plants that a patient or caregiver can legally possess but is committed to ensuring that gardens are safe and secure. She said that the AG’s office is primarily concerned with the number of fires and break-ins that have been attributed to MMj gardens and the “bad actors” who they believe are exploiting the MMj program for personal financial gain and are really drug dealers. She argued that inspections by local towns and cities will ensure that the wiring for the garden is up to code and safe. She argued for 24 hour verification of cards, national background checks, and mandatory revocation of cards for caregivers convicted of drug felonies.

RIPAC, patients and caregivers argued against local inspections because it would compromise confidentiality and security. Records of the inspections would be public. There was strong support for 24 hour verification of cards. Most of the questions from the Representatives concerned the local inspections.

The Committee did not vote in favor or against the bill, but held it for further study. You can scroll down and read previous summaries of the bill on this blog. It is the same bill as Senate 558.  You can view the hearing: http://ricaptv.discovervideo.com/embedviews/vod?s=1&c=HOUSE%20COMMITTEE%20ON%20JUDICIARY&w=640&h=480#

Hearing on House Version of AG’s Bill is on Tuesday!

There will be a legislative hearing on the House version of the AG’s bill this Tuesday at 4:30pm at the State House in the House Lounge, 2nd floor behind House chamber. This bill, H5823, would make dramatic changes to the MMj program and is identical to the Senate version of the bill. Scroll down to read a summary. To read the full text of the  bill:http://webserver.rilin.state.ri.us/BillText/BillText13/HouseText13/H5823.pdf. Call the RIPAC office Monday afternoon at 401.861.1601 or email: joanne@ripatients.org for more info if you have questions about testifying.  

WELCOME TO OUR NEW WEBSITE

Welcome to RIPAC’s new website.

We are doing our best to provide patients, caregivers, and all those interested in the Rhode Island Medical Marijuana Program with reliable up to date information. This new website allows us to provide you with ongoing updates so please check it frequently. This is just the beginning. We will adding more topics. Your comments and suggestions are welcome. Jesse Stout, the founding executive director of RIPAC, created an amazing website for RIPAC back in the days when few created their own websites. When he left RIPAC for law school, there was no one to maintain it the way he did. Consequently, the RIPAC website has been sadly out of date for far too long. We hope you find our new site helpful. Contact us with your comments and questions.

Patients and Caregivers Oppose Bill Proposed by RI Attorney General

On Thursday, April 11, an impressive group of articulate patients and caregivers waited several hours to testify before the RI Senate Committee on Judiciary in opposition to Senate Bill 558.  This is the bill that was filed on behalf of RI Attorney General Kilmartin which would: Reduce all patient and caregiver plant limits by 50 %, double the permissible amounts of dried usable cannabis that a patient and/or caregiver may legally possess, and require all patients and caregivers who grow medical cannabis to obtain an annual cultivation certificate (fee to be determined by Health Department). The certificate, among other provisions, would require approval  fromlocal zoning/ building inspectors and restrict growing to the residence where the patient or caregiver lives. A maximum of two licensed growers would be permitted at one residence. The bill  would allow landlords to prohibt MMj growing while prohibiting patients and caregivers from growing in a non residential setting. Only those who own non-residential properties would be permitted to grow in them.     The bill would require caregivers to submit to national background checks(current law only requires a RI background check) and would provide a 24 hour verification  for police to verify patient and caregiver licences (currently police can only verify licenses by phone during Health Dept. business hours).

Patients and caregivers were especially vocal in their opposition to the proposed reduction in plant limits, inspections by local building inspectors, increased fees for caregivers, and the proposed prohibition on growing in non residential settings. RIPAC urged committee members to double the limit of dried usable cannabis that is presently allowed patients and caregivers, advocated for 24 hour verification of patient and caregiver licenses (with restrictions as to the scope of police access), supported national background checks for caregivers (in lieu of the current state BCI requirement) with an one annual check replacing the current requirement that caregivers obtain a BCI check everytime they add or renew a patient.

The Senate Committee members expressed support for patients, caregivers, and RIPAC. Senator Archambault, an attorney, former police officer, and prosecutor for the town of Lincoln (Democrat – District 22, Smithfield, North Providence, Johnston) was particularly complimentary of RIPAC and RI MMj patients.

The Committee voted to hold the bill for further study. To read the text of the bill : http://webserver.rilin.state.ri.us/BillText/BillText13/SenateText13/S0558.pdf

We expect the RI House of Representatives Committee on Judiciary to schedule a hearing on the bill in the near future.