The Rhode Island House of Representatives passed a revised bill yesterday that paves the way for the opening of three medical marijuana dispensaries that likely will be open by fall. Governor Andrew Cuomo’s “progressive” New York, however, is still assessing the “risks” of legalizing prescription pot.
Medical marijuana was legalized in Rhode Island in 2006. However, the state is yet to license any dispensaries, or “compassion centers,” because lawmakers spent the last three years ironing out how to regulate what are essentially marijuana stores. Additionally, the state’s governor, Lincoln Chafee, last year blocked the creation of any dispensaries as the federal government was cracking down on dispensaries in other states.
The bill sets a cap on how much weed a dispensary is allowed to have on hand at one time, setting the limit at 1,500 ounces per center. The bill also gives authorities the power to inspect the centers, and gives law enforcement officials a seat on the board of each dispensary.
Currently, there are about 4,400 people in Rhode Island with medical
marijuana cards, many of whom will probably start buying their weed at
dispensaries — rather than from drug dealers — where it can be
regulated and taxed.
Rhode Island’s dispensary bill now only needs Chafee’s signature, and the governor’s indicated that he plans on signing it.
Here in New York, a bill allowing medical marijuana is headed for a full
vote in the Assembly, where it likely will pass. Then it would need to
get through the Senate, where it’s unclear if it would get approved.
Then it would need Cuomo’s signature, which probably won’t happen.
Despite saying that New York should be the “progressive” leader in the
country when making the case for gay marriage, the governor hasn’t
embraced medical marijuana.
When asked about medical marijuana last month, Cuomo said he’s “studying” the pros
and cons, but that there isn’t enough time this year for the
Legislature to fine-tune the
bill into something he’d
consider signing (we suspect Cuomo’s stance on medical weed has
something to do with his presidential ambitions. More on that here).
“There are tremendous risks,” the governor told reporters in April. “I think the risks outweigh the benefits at this point.”
We asked the governor’s office what “risks” he was referring to. We were given no answer. More on that here.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on May 18, 2012