Tags and Inspections

Patients and caregivers who are growing plants are required to have tags on their plants by April 1. Please scroll down on this website for more info.  One of the most frequent questions is whether or not patient and caregiver gardens will be subject to routine or surprise inspections by DBR or Health Dept.  The short answer is no. There is a provision in the new DBR regulations for inspections but they will not be routine or surprise. If DBR has reason to believe their is non-compliance, they can send a letter expressing those concerns to the patient or caregiver. If no response after 10 days, they can send another letter. If still no response they can call or possibly email. Only after that can they even attempt to schedule a visit to the garden. DBR does not have the right to just show up and demand access  to anyone’s garden. Here are the inspection regulations:

DBR Processes for Monitoring and Verifying Compliance with Tagging Requirements and Marijuana Plant Possession Limits

1. If DBR has reasonable grounds to believe that a medical marijuana plant tag holder, a primary caregiver who has not obtained or renewed tags, or a qualified patient cardholder who has made an election to grow who has not obtained or renewed tags, may be in violation of the tagging requirements and/or plant possession limits set forth in the Act  and/or these regulations, the below steps may be taken to verify compliance or prompt the person to come into compliance.

2. First Written Notice: A written notice may be sent to the person explaining the tagging requirements and plant possession limits set forth in the Act and these regulations and why the DBR has reason to believe the person may be out of compliance and outlining the information the person may provide and/or the action(s) the person may take to verify or come into compliance. The recipient will have ten (10) business days from the date of mailing to reply to this notice.

3. Second Written Notice: If the recipient fails to respond to the first written notice with information that verifies compliance or fails to take the necessary actions to come into compliance, a second written notice may be sent and the recipient will have an additional ten (10) business days from the date of mailing to reply.

4. Alternative Contact Attempt: If the recipient fails to respond to the second written notice with information that verifies compliance or fails to take the necessary actions to come into compliance, the DBR may attempt to contact the person utilizing other contact methods through information provided on any tag purchasing form submitted to DBR (e.g. telephone) or other contact information reasonably obtained by DBR (e.g. public telephone listings).

5. Reasonable Inspection: If an alternative contact attempt has been unsuccessful or, if after ten (10) business days following an alternative contact, the person has not yet provided information that verifies compliance or taken the necessary actions to come into compliance, then the person may be subject to reasonable inspection by DBR to ensure compliance with the tagging requirements and plant possession limits set forth in the Act and these regulations. DBR shall make an effort to schedule inspections in advance.

Plant Tag Order Forms are Available

Patients and their caregivers can order their plant tags through the DBR (Department of Business Regulation) website:  http://www.dbr.ri.gov/divisions/medicalmarijuana/#medtags    After completing the forms,  the DBR will verify the information with DoH and then notify the patient or caregiver the amount due for the tags with payment instructions. The process will likely take 3-4 weeks. The tags can later be picked up at DBR in Cranston.

All patients and caregivers are required to have a tag on each plant by April 1. The cost is 25 dollars for each set. A set is two tags, one for a mature plant and one for a seedling. Patients on SSI, SSDI, Medicaid, Railroad Disability and Disabled Veterans will receive free tags. Caregivers growing for patients who qualify for free tags will also receive free tags for those patients. A caregiver must have a minimum of one set of tags for each patient they are growing for.

Before completing the form, caregivers should determine how many plants they will be growing for each patient and know whether or not the patient will qualify for free tags.

Grow Class Tonight – Wed. 12/28

Looks like we will have some open seats in the Grow Class tonight at 7PM in Providence.  It’s an important class on seed germination, transplanting seedlings, cloning, and transplanting clones. Class is taught by one of Rhode Island’s most knowledgeable and respected growers. If you are interested, please email joanne@ripatients.org for last minute registration. Licensed patients and caregivers only. Fee for this 2 hour class (7-9pm) is only 25 dollars.

Health Dept. Finalizes Regulations

The Health Dept adopted regulations that:

Require caregivers to live in RI.  The regulations take effect January 1.  We are in the process of finding out if out of state caregivers are required to turn in their cards and take down their gardens by January 1 or whether they can keep their cards until the expiration date.

Require doctors who sign applications to see their MMj patients at least every 6 months and:

(a) The certifying practitioner shall obtain three (3) hours or equivalent of Category 1 CME regarding medical marijuana every two (2) years as part of usual CME/CE requirement.

(b) The certifying practitioner shall document in the medical record the basis for issuance of a written certification regarding use of medical marijuana, specifically identifying the debilitating condition(s) being met.

(c) Patient Education: The certifying practitioner shall document in the medical record and provide in written or verbal format, that patient was educated regarding maximum daily dose of active ingredient, minimum interval between doses, possible drug interactions – including risk of co-ingesting alcohol.

(d) The certifying practitioner must document after examination, the patient’s response to conventional medical therapies and explain the risks and benefits of the use of marijuana to the qualifying patient.

(e) The certifying practitioner must be committed to the continual assessment of the patient and the patient’s response to the use of marijuana. This must be demonstrated through follow-up appointments, semi-annually at minimum, before the card is renewed. The practitioner will send updates to the primary care provider (if not the PCP), at intervals 5 not to exceed twelve (12) months, documenting patients progress or experience using medical marijuana.

(f) The certifying practitioner must have a current license to practice medicine, as specified in § 1.21 of these regulations, and current DEA registration and appropriate state controlled substance registration.

(g) Before issuing a written certification, a certifying physician must review the Rhode Island Prescription Drug Monitoring Program, review the patients’ prescription history and make a judgement about the potential for drug interaction, adverse events or untoward clinical outcome from adding medical marijuana.

(h) Document in the medical record a full assessment as defined in § 1.13 of these Regulations Addition of Debilitating Medical Conditions

Defines Role of “Authorized Purchaser”as a person who purchases MMj for a patient at a compassion center. Must pass same national crime record check (fingerprints and 35 dollar fee) as caregivers. Same fee as caregivers (100 dollars per year). May reside out of state.

The regulations do not state that patients who are eligible for hospice (and their caregiver, if any)should have their fees waived.  This was included in the PTSD bill that became law last July.

RIPAC, the ACLU, and many patients and caregivers submitted testimony suggesting changes that the Health Dept. chose not to incorporate. To read the new regs  go to the Health Dept.’s website:  http://sos.ri.gov/documents/archives/regdocs/released/pdf/DOH/8435.pdf

Reminder:  As of January 1, licenses will be on a one year cycle instead of two. If you renew your license after Jan 1, you will receive one year license instead of two.If you are currently paying 100 dollars for a two year registration, you will pay 50 dollars for a one year license. Caregivers will pay 100 dollars per year. However, if you currently pay the reduced fee of 25 dollars, you will pay 25 dollars every year instead of every 2 years. So, in effect, the patients with the lowest incomes are receiving a increase in fees. We were told that the conversion to a one year cycle would NOT result in fee increases. To see the fees: http://sos.ri.gov/documents/archives/regdocs/released/pdf/DOH/8436.pdf






DBR Issues Final Regulations

The Dept of Business Regulation (DBR) has issued final regulations . These are the regulations that were recently the subject of a public hearing and DBR was accepting comments on them until Dec. 7. RIPAC has not yet analyzed the difference between the proposed regulations and the final regulations. When we do, we will post on the  RIPAC website.  In the meanwhile, the final regulations can be viewed on the DBR website at: http://www.dbr.state.ri.us/documents/rules/medical_marijuana/DBR_Medical_Marijuana_Regulations_Final.pdf

Rep. Corvese of North Providence Intends to File Bill That Will Make Caregiver Grows Public

The Medical Marijuana Act protects the privacy of the identity of patients, caregivers, and their grow locations.   According to  Go Local.Prov,  Rep. Corvese of North Providence, wants the public to know the location of caregiver grows.

“It’s often apparent to the neighbors when someone is selling drugs illegally. Allowing the public to know who is a legitimate caregiver and who is not can be helpful in getting people to report those who are just street-level illegal drug dealers as well as caregivers who are abusing the program and fueling drug abuse in their neighborhoods. There’s no legitimate reason this information should be kept secret from the public when providers of other drugs are disclosed,” said Corvese.

The legislature comes back in January and Rep.Corvese  has announced his intention to introduce a bill that will change the MMj Act to delete caregiver privacy protections and make their grow sites a matter of public record.