Rally Today at 4PM

Rally to protest Governor’s MMj Proposal will take place today, Tuesday Feb. 23 at 4PM outside of State House on Smith Street.  It looks like it may be snowing a bit at start of rally but we are planning to go ahead so please dress appropriately.  This is an outdoor rally.  See you there!

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Reminder: Rally is next TUESDAY at 4pm

Reminder: Rally at State House to protest Governor’s MMj tax and proposal will take place next Tuesday. February 23 at 4pm -5pm.  The rally will be outside so if the weather is a problem, we will reschedule. Check  our website for updates.

PLEASE NOTE THAT WE ARE HAVING TROUBLE WITH THE BUTTON ABOVE THAT LETS YOU JOIN OUR EMAIL LIST. IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO BE ON OUR EMAIL LIST TO GET UPDATES ABOUT THE MMj PROGRAM, PLEASE EMAIL joanne@RIpatients.org  with email address that you would like on our mailing list.  Please email joanne@RIpatients .org  if you were on list but have not been receiving your emails lately and we will correct the situation. Sorry for inconvenience.

Summary Of Governor’s Proposal and RALLY

Save the date! RIPAC is working with Responsible Caregivers of RI to organize rally at State House to protest Governor’s proposal on Tuesday February 16th. Not this Tuesday (looks like snow) but next Tuesday at 4pm.  In the meanwhile, please contact your state representative. That is the most effective thing that you can do. Call and/or write a letter to your state representative (not federal). Do you know who your state rep is? The Governor’s proposal is now in the hands of the RI House of Representatives. Ask your rep to eliminate the Governor’s proposal in the budget. This is an unbearable tax on patients who are sick and/or have debilitating medical conditions.
If you do not know who your state rep is, find out now. Go to https://sos.ri.gov/vic/. If you put in your address, you will see who your state representative is. If you have trouble getting their contact info, google them and/or call your local town or city hall and ask. Phone calls and letters are generally more effective than emails. Do all three if you can and get everyone you know to do the same. You don’t have to be a patient to be outraged by this tax.

Below is a summary of the changes that the Governor’s proposal would make to the MMj Program.   They are extensive.  You will see references to DBR.  DBR is the Department of Business Regulation and it is going to be playing a major role in the regulation of the MMj Program if the Governor’s proposal is enacted. The DBR would issue regulations that would articulate many details. The Health Department would have a diminished role.

The bottom line is that MMj will be more expensive and less accessible for patients.  Plant counts will be greatly reduced and the cost of growing dramatically increased. A patient who grows 6 plants (3 mature and 3 seedlings) will have to pay 900 dollars to the state every year. We know few patients who are in a position to write such a check.  If a patient has a caregiver who grows 6 plants for them, they will have to write a check for 2100 dollars.  Can you imagine if you had to write a check to the state for thousands of dollars because you use blood pressure medicine?  Please take a look at the summary and call your state rep to let them know how this will affect you and others. Explain why not all patients can use the compassion centers.  They won’t know if you don’t tell them.

Please check this website periodically for updates.  This proposal is creating so much stress. Please remember to take extra good care of yourself during this time.

Summary of Governor’s MMj Proposal

Every Plant Must Have Tag

Every MMj plant in RI would be required to have a tag except for Compassion Center plants.

Tags to be purchased annually from Department of Business Regulation (DBR) at a price to be determined by DBR regulation. Revenues would go to the state treasury, not to administer MMP.

The Governor said that the prices per tag would be $150 for patients and $350 for caregivers.  The fact that the Governor has announced the prices gives the impression that DBR has already determined the prices.  Ordinarily, there is a public hearing prior to a regulation being issued. DBR can, but is not required to, issue regulations with lower prices for low income patients and caregivers who provide for low income patients.

Spokesperson for the administration claims that prices for tags are based on 2% of the revenues produced by one plant which is 17,000 dollars.

Not clear where the 17,000 dollar figure came from but it is a grandiose fantasy. We have yet to come across a 17,000 dollar plant.  Plants grown by a patient for their own medical use have no commercial value because the medicine is not sold. Caregivers who are growing for their registered patients can be reimbursed for expenses but not profit. Again, the medicine has no commercial value because it cannot be sold for profit. Only cardholders who sell to the compassion centers can legally profit from the sale of medical cannabis.  These cardholders receive wholesale, not retail prices from the compassion centers, who resell the cannabis. These cardholders must pay income taxes on the sales to the compassion centers.  The compassion centers must charge a 7% sales tax when they sell the medicine to patients in addition to the 4% tax they pay on monthly gross revenues.

Failure to purchase plant tags could result in revocation of MMj card and fines.

Patients Could Use Any and All Compassion Centers

A patient could purchase at any of the three compassion centers. No more registering for compassion centers. Still restricted to 2.5 ounces every 15 days. Data base will use patient MMj numbers to facilitate communication between compassion centers to ensure that no patient buys more than 2.5 ounces every 15 days from compassion centers.

Plant Counts

Patients may have up to 6 plants, including seedlings. Patients may have a combination of mature plants and seedlings as long as the total does not exceed six.  This is a 75% reduction in the plant count.

Caregivers may still be registered for as many as five patients. They may have six plants (a combination of mature plants and seedlings) per patient   However, they cannot exceed a total of 24 (mature and seedlings) plants.  This also is a drastic reduction in plant count depending on the number of patients. For caregivers with one patient, it is a 75%reduction.

A patient who is also a caregiver must count him or herself as one of the patients. Therefore, a patient who becomes a caregiver can have a maximum of 4 patients and count themselves as the fifth. (Unclear if the patient who is his own caregiver can have 2.5 ounces of dried usable)

Co-ops will have the same total plant counts but with no distinction between mature plants and seedlings. Instead of 24 mature and 12 seedlings, a residential co-op could have a total of 36 in any combination.

Instead of 48 mature and 24 seedlings, non-residential co-ops could have a total 72 plants in any combination.

Co-ops must have patients to correspond with plant numbers. A residential co-op would have to provide for at least six patients to grow 36 plants. A non-residential co-op would have to provide for at least 12 patients to grow 72 plants.

Limits on Dried Usable Medicine

No change. Patient is still limited to 2.5 ounces. Caregiver with one patient can have 2.5 ounces. Caregiver with 2-5 patients may have 5 ounces.

Grow Locations

Maximum of 24 plants in a dwelling unit or commercial unit except for co-ops and “licensed cultivators”. Commercial unit is a building or room within commercial building.  A dwelling unit means the room or group of rooms within a dwelling used or  intended for use by one family or household, or by no more than three  unrelated individuals, for living, sleeping, cooking and eating.

All grows must be registered with DBR. A cardholder can grow in only one location.

Authorized Purchaser

Patient may designate “authorized purchaser” to purchase medicine at compassion centers for them. Must be 21 and register with health department. They may not grow or use patient’s medicine. Can only have one patient. Background checks not required by proposed law but fees and other requirements will be determined by Health Department.

Patient Options for Medicine

If a patient purchases tags to grow, then they cannot appoint a caregiver or authorized purchaser. They can use the compassion centers but if they are too sick or unable to get there, they will not have anyone to purchase on their behalf.

If a patient does not grow, then may appoint a caregiver or authorized purchaser (cannot appoint both) and can use the compassion centers.

Flammable Chemical Extracts

Patients and caregivers prohibited from creating concentrates through flammable solvents including, but not limited to, butane, hexane, and propane.

Physicians

Massachusetts and Connecticut physicians could no longer certify patient applications. RI physicians only.

Cultivators License

New category of grower to be licensed and regulated by DBR

DBR would issue regulations that determine qualifications, plant counts, application process, fees, etc

Each plant must have tag to be purchased annually

Cultivator could not be a caregiver or participate in co-op

Could sell to compassion centers only – no direct sales to patients, caregivers or authorized purchasers.

Inspection

Caregivers, licensed cultivators, licensed compassion centers, and licensed cooperative cultivations wouldbe subject to “reasonable inspection” by the DBR for the purposes of enforcing regulations and laws. DBR to determine whether inspections include law enforcement.

Law enforcement shall have access to information about growers “only to the  extent  necessary  to verify information about medical marijuana tags, caregiver cardholders, licensed cultivators, cooperative cultivations, and compassion center cardholders.” If law enforcement asks the Health Dept. for information about a patient, the Dept. will only verify patient’s MMj number, which is the current law.

Department of Business Regulation

Would register all grows, license and inspect.  Will be issuing new fee schedules for grows and tags.  Fees for tags go to the state’s general fund. Other fees to go to an account for administration of MMP.

Would license and regulate cultivators and compassion centers.

Issue a report by 1/1/17 evaluating effectiveness of compassion centers and make recommendations as to need for additional centers

Health Department

Would still register patients. Would register authorized purchasers

Regulate labelling, testing and maintenance of compassion center products

Hospice Patients

Health department would expedite applications for Hospice patients

Compassion Centers

The current 4% tax would be reduced to 3% as of July 1, 2016

Gifting Provision

The gifting provision allows a patient or caregiver to GIVE medicine to another cardholder as long as there is no consideration (nothing of value is asked for in return) and the person receiving the gift does not go over their limit. The gifting provision, which so many so income patients benefit from, would be eliminated.

Effective Date

New law would take effect 7/1/16.  Patients and caregivers would have to comply with new plant limits by 12/31/16.

 

To view the actual text of proposed law :

http://webserver.rilin.state.ri.us/BillText/BillText16/HouseText16/H7454.pdf

Go to Article 14 on page 194

Please note that when you read the text, you will see many provisions crossed out but if you keep reading, you will see that many are reinserted in a different section.