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Medical Marijuana Advocates Praise Proposed Budget Changes

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Medical marijuana advocates are praising the House Finance committee for changes to the state’s medical marijuana program, including the reduction of a...

Medical marijuana advocates are praising the House Finance committee for changes to the state’s medical marijuana program, including the reduction of a steep new fee on marijuana plants.

The state budget proposal emerging from the House includes new regulations for medical marijuana patients and their caregivers. It adds a new category of participants: cultivators. The budget leaves it to regulators to work out how these presumably commercial operators would work. But the addition could change the way the state’s medical marijuana dispensaries get their supply. 

Head of the Rhode Island Patient Advocacy Coalition JoAnne Leppanen says it’s a dramatic change.

“Right now the only people who can grow cannabis in the state are those who are growing it for themselves because they’re patients, caregivers growing for their own patients," says Leppanen. "They’re not allowed to profit.”

If it passes, the new budget will also require patients and caregivers to buy a tag for each plant they grow. But the cost - $25 dollars – has been significantly reduced from Governor Gina Raimondo’s original proposal of between $150 and $350 per tag.

Medical marijuana for sale at a Rhode Island compassion center, or dispensary.
Medical marijuana for sale at a Rhode Island compassion center, or dispensary.