May 05, 2012
Author: Don Salvatore
Link to CT Mirror Story:
What has been considered a fringe issue for so very long is now codified Connecticut law: As of last night (actually, early this morning) a bill legalizing Medical (Palliative) Marijuana has been passed through the CT House of Representatives and Senate, and is headed for Governor Malloy's desk. The Governor has openly proclaimed that he will sign the bill into law, which will take effect on October 1st, 2012.
The House vote was 96-51 in favor. The Senate vote was 21-13 in favor. These numbers are similar to, but even more favorable than, the legislature's approval of the Decriminalization of Cannabis, which was approved last session. The Senate passed decrim last year on an 18-18 tiebreaker (by Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman).
The bill's passage came after over 10 hours of debate, about 9 of which were entirely taken up by Senator Toni Boucher (R-143rd District), who made no one but Strom Thurmond's ghost happy with her marathon filibuster attempt, which was filled with "reefer madness" scare tactics, misinformation, and easily contradicted statistics. None of her 48(!) proposed amendments passed (many were not even brought up, as she spoke for seven hours before even bringing up a single amendment).
What the Bill Does
The bill contains a list of specific ailments which are "approved" to receive a doctor's recommendations for medical marijuana . These maladies include HIV/AIDS, Cancer, PTSD, Glaucoma, Crohn's Disease, and more. The bill establishes a committee of CT doctors which will continuously revise and update the list of ailments, presumably so that additional illnesses may be added (or in theory, removed) from the approved list. The bill is very conservative otherwise, which is probably why it passed through the Republican-addled but Democrat-controlled legislature. The bill allows for up to only 10 producers (growers) and 3 dispensaries in the state. The cannabis will not be dispensed from pharmacies, but from separate compassion centers--however, the centers must have a pharmacist on duty at all times. Also, the system does not allow for "prescriptions" in the usual sense, but for "reccommendations" which any doctor may give to a patient if deemed necessary. A patient will be recommended up to a "month's supply" at a time. The minimum age allowed to take advantage of the bill is 18 (Senator Boucher tried and failed to raise the limit to 21, a which is apparantly a much more reasonable age to let people not be in pain/suffering). Like I said before, the bill takes effect on October 1st of this year.
Yesterday was a long day for me. My roommates, a few friends and I were home watching CT-N starting at 4pm sharp, when the debate on the bill was supposed to begin (it officially began around 4:20pm, interestingly enough). We originally intended on playing a drinking game where we'd drink every time someone used "think of the children" as an argument against the bill's passage, but we quickly abandoned the game as we soon realized there was not enough liquor or alcohol tolerance in the world to sensibly complete such a game. The first person to speak was the Judiciary Committee Chair, Sen. Eric Coleman (D-Hartford/Bloomfield/Windsor). The second was Deputy Minority Leader John Kissel (R-7th District). Both men heartily approved of the bill, making well known the positive implications of the bill far outweighed the negatives, and how the bill was about helping sick people, not turning healthy people sick. I and a few other UConn students (and many, many more non-students/former students) went and spoke in advocacy of this bill during the Judiciary Committee hearing this past March, and Coleman (and surprisingly, especially Kissel) were quick to vocalize their understanding of potential patients and families of patients on the illnesses they must suffer through, and they vowed to assist these constituents by doing the "least they could do to help", which was passing this bill. Though other members of the committee spoke up in admirable and passionate support of the bill throughout the day (the reps-in-attendance greatly varied throughout the day), Senators Kissel and Coleman were the only two members of the Judicial committee who engaged me when I went to speak, again very much so with Senator Kissel. I appreciate what they and others (Representative Fox-D, Rep Bacchiochi-R, and more) have done to aid their constituents more than they will ever know, and I will not soon forget it.
If there is one thing that Senator Boucher said that I agree with (that is, there was, in fact, only a single thing she said that I agreed with, other than "I could go on about this forever", which she said no less than four times over her 9 hour sprint-to-nowhere) is that additional drug education is necessary in this world of (seemingly) increasingly legal substance. It feels very surreal and unfortunate to know far more about cannabis than the legislators who are legislating my (or collective "our") use of cannabis. It feels even stranger to see legislators deciding medical worth in any capacity--it seemed that some of the speakers could barely pronounce half of the terms they were describing, let alone appropriately determine absolute legal opinions about them.
Regardless, it is very encouraging to take a step back and gaze at our state right now. The progress we've breathed and reached has turned even the most ardent skeptic's (IE: my) head. In the past few years alone: Transgender rights, decriminalization of (possession of <.5oz) cannabis, alcohol sales on Sunday (which is another great, if delayed, anti-prohibition victory), gay marriage, medicinal cannabis, Good Samaritan Law, anti-profiling law, a law that protects CT citizens from filming the police (which could use some work apparently: http://tinyurl.com/74tsj3c ). I know I'm forgetting some, but how could I not with such a stacked list as that? In a country with a (marginally) tightening conservative grip around media and politics, CT is standing tall as a progressive leader in the country. No, really. It's been quite exciting to see what has happened over just my first three years of university life. If anything it makes me, and should make everyone else, far more willing to attempt the impossible in the upcoming year. Two years ago, I thought it would be nearly a decade before CT saw cannabis decriminalization or medicalization. Now we have both, in back to back years. That is absolutely astounding, and loses none of my respect.
There is still much to be done in Connecticut, both inside and outside of the drug policy movement. There are issues of inequity and class struggle. Issues of undereducation and gross misallocations of funds at our universities. There are issues of oppression, under-employment, and political abandonment in our cities and towns.
The semi-involuntary family that is Connecticut will continue to operate, day in, day out, and some of us will do far better and far worse than others. Moving forward, I wish to see my peers from all walks of life step back and with open ears listen to the stories of others, in hopes that we may all, somehow, someway, come out from under the weight of their personal trials, tribulations, and oppressions to reach that "better place" we're all looking forward to, day in, day out.
If the past few years--or the past few weeks--of legislation are any indication of the future, we may be headed in such an enticing direction.
U.S. Attorney Peter Neronha’s latest medical marjiuana move
April 26, 2012
tags: Compassion Centers, Governor Lincoln Chafee, Medical Marijuana, Medical Marijuana Dispensaries, U.S. Attorney Peter Neronha, U.S. Attorneys
Last year, a letter from U.S. Attorney Peter Neronha made Governor Lincoln Chafee put the brakes on Rhode Island’s medical marijuana dispensaries.
Now the U.S. Attorney is putting another message through the mail. This one makes property owners “aware” of the actions the office might take against them if they house large scale, for-profit medical marijuana stores.
Jim Martin, the spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s Office, says the letters are going out this week to folks that own the buildings for the state’s yet to open compassion centers. It’s possible some owners haven’t received the letters yet.
Martin would not provide a copy of the letter, but he says it served as a reminder that the medical marijuana dispensaries would violate federal law and housing them could result in action against the owners, including forfeiture of the property.
Why send the letters now? Martin says it’s not part of any larger “strategy” or plan of action, just part of the U.S. Attorney’s practice of keeping people informed.
Neronha also paid a visit to Governor Lincoln Chafee on Tuesday where he “clarified” the office’s stance on medical marijuana dispensaries. Martin says that clarification did not involve any opinions on legislation in the General Assembly meant to help these compassion centers open.
Neronha says he has no position on what is considered a compromise between lawmakers and medical marijuana advocates.
Hats off to the AP (David Klepper) for getting this story first.
RI Senate OKs medical pot dispensary compromise
By David Klepper
Associated Press / May 9, 2012
PROVIDENCE, R.I.—The Rhode Island Senate passed compromise legislation Wednesday intended to recharge a stalled effort to open medical marijuana dispensaries with new limits on how much of the drug they may possess.
If the proposal passes the House as well, the dispensaries could be serving patients within several months.
The vote represents progress to dispensaries that were poised to open last year when Gov. Lincoln Chafee held up their permits because of the threat of federal prosecution.
"We've waited three years for a safe place patients can go to get the medicine they need," said Chris Reilly, a spokesman for the Slater Compassion Center in Providence, one of three dispensaries -- or compassion centers -- selected by state health regulators last year before Chafee intervened.
Chafee and lawmakers worked out the compromise with the hope that it might satisfy federal authorities, but it remains to be seen whether they succeeded.
The U.S. Justice Department remains concerned about "large-scale commercial cultivation and distribution" of marijuana, according to a statement from Peter Neronha, the U.S. attorney for Rhode Island. Neronha warned last year that while patients wouldn't face prosecution, dispensary operators might.
"Anyone engaging in such activities is subject to a variety of potential federal criminal and civil remedies, including forfeiture of the real estate where such centers or associated activities are located," Neronha said in his statement Wednesday.
Under the bill, dispensaries would be allowed to possess up to 1,500 ounces of marijuana. Other provisions designed to assuage federal concerns included one allowing state police to inspect dispensaries and another giving the state police a seat on the board overseeing the facilities.
Sen. Rhoda Perry, D-Providence, helped craft the compromise and calls it a conservative, good-faith effort to let the dispensaries operate without the fear of federal intervention.
"What's important to us is getting the licensing process back on track so the facilities can open and safely get some relief to suffering people," she said. "Every day these centers aren't open is another day that many sick and dying Rhode Islanders and their families or caregivers are forced to turn to unsafe, illegal means to get their medicine."
The House could vote on the measure as early as next week.
The bill passed 35-3 in the Senate. One of those "no" votes, Sen. Glenford Shibley, said he has doubts about marijuana's medical value and said the dispensaries could turn out to be a "nightmare."
"I'm not against people who are hurting," said the Coventry Republican. "Compassion sounds nice. But it's definitely wrong. There are other medicines to take. I'm kind of embarrassed on the Senate floor watching this go through."
More than 4,400 Rhode Islanders are now enrolled in the state's medical marijuana program.
State law allows patients to legally possess small amounts of marijuana to treat conditions including chronic pain, severe nausea, seizures and multiple sclerosis. In 2009, lawmakers passed legislation to set up compassion centers where patients could obtain marijuana in a state-regulated environment.
Last year, the Health Department picked three dispensaries and was preparing to finalize their licenses when Chafee halted the process. The dispensaries are the Thomas C. Slater Compassion Center in Providence, Summit Medical Compassion Center in Warwick and Greenleaf Compassionate Care Center in Portsmouth.
© Copyright 2012 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
[Not even for the public interest and educational purposes and given credit to the authors etc. getting the word out? nah wtf! neo liberals wtf]
The U.S. Attorney for Rhode Island says the bill proposed by Gov. Chafee and legislative leaders to leave regulating medical marijuana dispensaries to the state Department of Health, doesn't address his concerns.
Governor Lincoln Chafee and legislative leaders have introduced a bill that would give the Rhode Island Department of Health the leeway to regulate the three so-called "compassion centers" that would be licensed by the state to dispense marijuana for medical purposes, after U.S. Attorney Peter Neronha wrote to Chafee, suggesting that dispensary workers and even state employees involved with the program could be subject to federal prosecution.
"The legislation itself doesn't change the landscape to me, because it does not do anything concerning size," Neronha told WPRO's Steve Klamkin on Monday.
"I'm not saying that's the only issue that the government has with it. We said from the beginning that we're not focused on individual care givers, we're not focused on sick patients, but that certainly is one thing which concerns the government. And, I will say that from the very beginning with respect to these dispensaries, that some of them were very large in scope."
It is believed to be the first time that Neronha has addressed the issue, apart from his letter to Gov. Chafee warning of potential prosecutions. Neronha Monday was asked if there is a way that Rhode Island could structure a program that would pass muster with the Justice Department.
"That's ultimately not my decision," Neronha said. "I am left to deal with the legal landscape as I have it."
Correction: ‘DOGMA-LIKE’ "That's ultimately not my decision," Neronha said. ["I am left to deal with the legal landscape as I have it."] dogma-like because this mindset is treated like a religion and requires huge leaps of ‘faith’,,, suggesting that it’s a moral, ethical thing do, that is that its o.k. to withhold a medical solution for someone that is suffering with a medical condition and replace it with high-flatulent concepts and theories not to be disputed or even questioned
["I am left to deal with the legal landscape as I have it."] b.s.,,, ["I am left to deal with the legal landscape as I have it."] this is manmade ‘choice’ not some uncontrolled act of nature
Saturday, May 12, 2012 02:56 PM
10"EP: London Underground - 'Watching West Indians In The Cold'
On-U Sound Records / March 1982 ON-U DP 4
1982 released date, 10 years ahead of time,,, waiting and waiting and waiting and for other people to catch up
America is waiting - David Byrne & Brian Eno
Friday, May 11, 2012 05:57 PM
Props to you Sir!,,, long live the democratic process,,, fine writing ability and the power of the personal testimonial - given political issues human faces
Senate Approves New Rules for Medical Marijuana Centers The Rhode Island Senate approved new legislation Wednesday. May 10, 2012
[But the process got put on hold by Gov. Chafee in May, after U.S. Attorney Peter F. Neronha issued a letter saying he did not support the centers]
Is U.S. Attorney Peter F. Neronha willing to be on call 24-7 to come to the aid of those suffering with ‘real’ medical conditions?
Is U.S. Attorney Peter F. Neronha willing to be on call 24-7 to come to the aid of those suffering with ‘real’ medical conditions with his explanations of dogma? I doubt it, his actions are the way of the out dated political hack who is willing to step on innocent people lives for his own political short term career, dinosaur thinkers like him need to push the envelope for real and cease his solicitations for others to join him in self-encloser and quit posing and toasting for “justice”
Dope Dub a thank you gift, I think you might dig the sound of the London Underground
Friday, May 11, 2012 05:04 PM
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