Rhode Island’s Governor Chafee has done the unthinkable and announced in a statement yesterday that he is not going to allow the three medical marijuana dispensary licenses to be issued at all.
After over 150 days of doing nothing, a lawsuit was threatened, and now he’s pulling the plug. This screams recall, one term governor, you name it, it’s being shouted in four-letter words right now in Rhode Island.
Countless RI Patients and their friends and family have let the Governor know how this is affecting them in a multitude of ways: phone calls, letters, emails, editorials in the newspapers, press conferences, rallies, banners on overpasses, you name it, we’ve done it, and he refused to listen to reason or have a spine over this issue.
Even the ACLU is actively pursuing a lawsuit against the Governor for not following State Law.
Here are the points the medical marijuana advocates want to make:
1) Governor Chafee needs only to allow the RI Dept. of Health to issue the three compassion center licenses. The licenses are the product of RI State Medical Marijuana Law: debated, passed, signed, done deal, BEFORE he was even in office.
2) By refusing to allow the Dept. of Health to issue the licenses, he is willfully violating state law which mandated the state’s medical marijuana program have three operating, Dept. of Health regulated, privately owned and operated medical marijuana dispensaries to serve patients in the state’s program.
3) Because he is violating state law, among the other repercussions including patients’ unnecessary uncertainty and suffering, business owners who’ve paid fees twice for applications, hired employees, formed boards of directors, purchased or leased properties, buildings, equipment, security, I.T. firms, attorneys, consultants, etc., and because he is ignoring his voters and doing nothing, he should be served a court order and be forced to cease and assist and allow the licenses to be issued. Period.
This is a state issue, not a federal issue. This is a state law, not a federal law. This is a state program, not a federal program. To say to his people, to the sick and dying and their loved ones struggling to care for them, to the investors and small businesses, to the unemployed who were waiting to get to work, to all of us, ‘it goes against Federal Law’ is a non-point. This whole program is against federal law. It’s too late to have that argument Mr. Chafee, it’s water under the bridge now. The state law says license three dispensaries.
Who does the Governor of a state answer to, his people or the Feds? Rhode Island has been shouting it loud and clear for over 150 days: “You answer to us” – and he’s still not listening.
Governor Chafee has in the past stood up for a convicted, confessed murderer that killed a father in cold blood. Governor Chafee has stood up for illegal immigrants trying to get in-state tuition rates at our State run colleges. Governor Chafee has now suggested some type of driver license program for illegals. Why isn’t Governor Chafee standing up for safe access? Surely that is a ‘win-win’ political move, unlike standing up for a confessed murderer and asking tax payers to cough up more for those that didn’t come here by legal means. Chafee has left Rhode Islanders shaking their heads yet again.
Since the hold was officially announced last spring, there have been two Press Conferences at the State House urging him to allow the licenses to be issued. At the most recent one held Sept. 27, one patient in the medical marijuana program said she would add Governor Chafee to her caregiver form so that he can personally help a suffering citizen of his state. Representative Scott Slater talked of how his late father, Thomas Slater, would not like how the Governor is preventing this safe access. The fact that this is no longer a legislative issue was also brought up at the most recent Press Conference. The law has been passed and he wants to send it back to the legislature all over again. Rhode Island was supposed to have compassion centers up and running in 2009!
For over 150 days patients, their family members, their caregivers and nurses, their friends, their advocates, and RIPAC, called the Governor’s office. In August, the RI Medical Society urged the Governor to stop stalling in their four-paragraph letter to him. We’ve all been writing him letters, sending emails, hand delivering letters to his receptionists, phoning his office daily, telling our personal stories and the stories of our loved ones. Press Conferences, media coverage, it’s all happened and yet here we are – being told he won’t do it.
At a recent RIPAC patient meeting, the question was asked aloud to the packed room, “how many of you have gotten a letter back from Lincoln Chafee, or an email, or a return phone call? Anyone? Anyone?” Finally one man said he got an emailed response from the Governor’s office. One response to one person out of hundreds. Possibly thousands. There are over 3,000 patients in Rhode Island’s program, and almost all of us know someone that is being personally affected – negatively.
Rhode Island’s Governor already has horrible approval ratings. By making this choice, he will increase those disapproval numbers with this lack of leadership and courage. Shall we get all the other dissenters of Chafee’s leadership to join an effort that would get him recalled? I know some of you are having buyer’s remorse right now. Want to return your defective product? There is a Recall the Governor rally being held at Rhode Island’s State House October 5th starting at 5:00pm. I am going to be with some odd company: Representatives from the RI Tea Party and Republicans that hate the state’s medical program altogether. Looks like we’re all going to be on the same side of this issue. Our Governor has gone beyond being useless, he is now destroying our state and the very laws that were instituted to better it.
I’m thinking a citizen’s arrest for the crime-committing Governor, willfully torturing his sick and dying citizens, is warranted. How about house-arrest where patients occupy his Capitol office, and he can only come out when the licenses are distributed?
Obviously these are outrageous ideas, but here’s the bigger question: How outrageous does it have to get to get a man to do his job?
I want to see an open sign on Rhode Island’s first three dispensaries, and I want to see some real compassion in our Governor, not indifference to his own people AND to the legislative process that created this law for safe access in the first place. If he won’t do that, I want a different Governor.