Last night the Smithfield Town Council voted to pass the ordinance that eliminates caregivers, reduces patients to two mature and two seedlings, requires town inspection of grows and eliminates co-ops. They made only one amendment – to eliminate any potential compassion center. Despite concerns raised by RIPAC, the ACLU, and Regulate RI, and a couple of the councilors, the Council refused to get better educated and understand the impact on patients. For some reason, it was important for them to pass the ordinance last night. The Council president remarked that it could always be changed later. But it is in effect now.
Is this ordinance legal? We don’t think so. The ACLU doesn’t think so. Apparently, the AG does think so. If you are growing in Smithfield, or have a caregiver who is growing in Smithfield, and are interested in participating in a law suit, please email joanne@RIpatients.org and call the ACLU at 401.831.7171 for more information. Also, if you are approached by a Smithfield town official who tells you that you have to shut down your grow or limit your grow to two mature and two seedlings, or submit to an inspection, please contact your lawyer, if you have one. Contact RIPAC and the ACLU as soon as possible. All communications are, of course, confidential.
RIPAC has worked with many cities and towns and many many variations of zoning ordinances. Public hearings are usually the beginning of a productive dialogue as Councilors understand that they have much to learn about the MMj Program and its patients. After months, in one case two years, they pass an ordinance that either does not affect patient and caregiver grows or has minimal effect. Most town and city officials really don’t want to hurt patients. So, once they understand more about the Program and patients, they see their ordinances differently. They also don’t like the idea of being sued.
Smithfield’s approach has been to disregard the needs of patients. Apparently a committee was formed to create an ordinance. No patients, caregivers, or advocates were included or even consulted. The Attorney General’s office apparently played a major role.
Patients and caregivers from Smithfield did not testify at the hearing. We understand their need for privacy. The councilors did not hear from any residents who opposed the ordinance. That is a problem. We encourage Smithfield residents who are not growing but support those who are, to make their feelings known to the Council by email and by phone. They have heard from residents who support the ordinance including a nurse with a low opinion of MMj who stated that Marinol works!
You can view a video of the Council hearing at : https://vimeopro.com/smithfieldri/meetings/video/213864709