5/2/2011 – Governor Lincoln Chafee has announced that he will put an indefinite hold on the state’s three medical marijuana dispensaries from opening after receiving a threatening letter from US Attorney Peter Neronha on April 29th.
May 2, 2011
Statement from Governor Lincoln D. Chafee Regarding Compassion Centers
The United States Attorney for the District of Rhode Island delivered a letter to me on Friday afternoon which was copied to the Director of the Department of Health and the three Compassion Center applicants. That letter, as well as similar letters sent to officials in other states, clarified the Department of Justice’s position on medical marijuana. The Department of Justice previously indicated that it would not focus its limited resources on doctors and their sick patients who prescribe and use marijuana if such use was permitted by state law. This position was interpreted by some states as giving them latitude to authorize medical marijuana cultivation and distribution programs. Friday’s letter makes it clear that DOJ will now pursue certain commercial cultivation and distribution of medical marijuana, even if such cultivation and distribution is permitted by state law. Compassion centers, their owners, landlords, financiers and other operations “facilitators” are identified as potential targets of federal law enforcement activities.
None of Rhode Island’s compassion center applicants have received a certificate of registration to date. In light of the United States Attorney’s articulated position on closing compassion centers, seizing proceeds and prosecuting business enterprises that market and sell medical marijuana, I have placed a hold on the State’s medical marijuana certificate of registration program. During this hiatus, I will be consulting with the governors of other states with similar medical marijuana programs, with federal officials and with the compassion center applicants themselves.
Several governors have recently alluded to a planned meeting on the medical marijuana issue. The National Governors Association is the official body of these elected officials. NGA is currently led by Governor Christine Gregoire of Washington. DOJ also sent a letter to Gregoire, that action prompted her to veto parts of a new law that would have regulated medical cannabis dispensaries.