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Medical Marijuana Distribution One Step Closer

The R.I. Department of Health selected three medical marijuana dispensaries allowed under state law. The department selected the Greenleaf Compassionate Care Center to open in Portsmouth. Middletown acupuncturist Seth Bock leads Greenleaf. The center will offer medical marijuana to the Portsmouth patients registered with the health department.

Greenleaf must now pass a department inspection, register their staff with the department and secure certificates of occupancy from municipal officials. Greenleaf was granted permission to operate for two years, after which they will need to reapply.

Rhode Island is one of 15 states that permit medical marijuana. The District of Columbia approved the distribution July of 2010, however, the Dcist reported in January that "the glacial pace with which the program has progressed has been of some frustration to advocates, many of whom have found leases left hanging until they could be sure that the rules would take effect and have someone to govern their implementation."

Although marijuana is still illegal under federal law , State Lawmakers have allowed the centers in the hopes that patients stay away from buying marijuana on the street.

The legalization of medical marijuana in other states has not come without controversy. In Montana, the backlash has manifested itself in the form of vandalism with the hurling of Molotov cocktails through the windows of two marijuana businesses and spray-painting "NOT IN OUR TOWN." According to Matt Volz of the Associated Press, "They are looking to avoid what happened in California, which allowed the pot industry to grow so out of control that at one point Los Angeles had more medical marijuana shops than Starbucks ??????? about 1,000 by one count." For the most part the DEA has remained silent with occasional raids like in West Hollywood May 15th. The raids came as a shock to activists like Dege Coutee who runs the Patient Advocacy Network. ??????This is incredibly unsettling that the DEA would strike permitted collectives in a sanctuary city,?????? said Dege, ??????I hope that this is not going to be indicative for what the rest of our summer season will look like.?????? Prior to this raid, the DEA raided five of six dispensaries in West Hollywood in 2007, but had left the city????????s stores alone since then.

Could complete decriminalization be next? Rep. John Edwards (D-Dist. 70, Tiverton, Portsmouth) is trying again this year to decriminalize possession of up to one ounce of marijuana. The legislation (2011-H5031), which he first introduced last year, would call for civil fines of $150 per occurrence for those who possess small amounts of marijuana.

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