RI Governor Lincoln Chafee is Violating State Law by Not Licensing Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

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.

We protested outside a hotel on Thursday, September 29 where the Governor was having a dinner function after we got the news that he had pulled the plug on the compassion center law. (Photo by Catharine Leach)We protested outside a hotel on Thursday, September 29 where the Governor was having a dinner function after we got the news that he had pulled the plug on the compassion center law. (Photo by Catharine Leach)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.

Last Sunday ‘team Leach’ hung a banner over interstate 95 North that stayed up for three days. (Photo by Catharine Leach)Last Sunday ‘team Leach’ hung a banner over interstate 95 North that stayed up for three days. (Photo by Catharine Leach)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.

JoAnne Leppenan of Rhode Island Patient Advocacy Coaltion at a press conference in RI State House Tuesday, September 27. (Photo by Megan Hall.)JoAnne Leppenan of Rhode Island Patient Advocacy Coaltion at a press conference in RI State House Tuesday, September 27. (Photo by Megan Hall.)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.







  1. Catharine L on

    We’re working on it… 😉

  2. onegreenday on

    Thanks Catharine Leach. Nice job on this report.
    you covered all the bases nicely.

  3. Anonymous on

    How come this scum of the earth can dictate to others the way they are going to cure themselves of disease ? People vote him out !

  4. Catharine on

    Love it. Thanks OneGreenDay. 😉

  5. onegreenday on

    I doubt the Fed’s would close a ‘state approved’ dispensary.
    They hardly want to open that can of worms and have the Supreme Court rule against them (which is unlikely anyway)which would destroy their game.
    There’s a lawsuit pending to prove that cannabis is medicine and wrongly scheduled under the controlled substances act. If we get a fair trial we will win that and it will be rescheduled.

  6. onegreenday on

    The Governor is thinking of a ‘higher’ office in D.C.
    and doing the Fed’s dirty work is good on his resume.
    I’m surprised people thought Gov. Chafee worked for the people
    of Rhode Island. Our government is unresponsive to the people.
    They answer to nobody; including the people and voting them out of
    office is simply ‘collateral damage’ in politics. In other words
    it’s part of their game with us.

    Gov. Chafee SIGN or RESIGN………

  7. Anonymous on

    You know whats going to happen next right….now the Federal goverment is going to send in the DEA to take the dispensaris out. An that will make things worse an waste money and take jobs away form people just because some Governor thinks hes high an mighty an doesn’t want listen to his people. I thought this country was for the people by the people, things have been getting more an more assbackwards.

  8. Catharine Leach on

    The Decider

  9. Anonymous on

    Agents and guns do make people legitimately afraid of our government. The US government has had a patent on cannabinoids as a neuroprotectant since 2003. Quoting the patent, “This new found property makes cannabinoids useful in the treatment and prophylaxis of wide variety of oxidation associated diseases, such as ischemic, age-related, inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. The cannabinoids are found to have particular application as neuroprotectants, for example in limiting neurological damage following ischemic insults, such as stroke and trauma, or in the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and HIV dementia.” Surely they speak the truth about this. Have a look at the patent, #6630507. http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO1&Sect2=HITOFF&d=PALL&p=1&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsrchnum.htm&r=1&f=G&l=50&s1=6630507.PN.&OS=PN/6630507&RS=PN/6630507Sect1=PTO1&Sect2=HITOFF&d=PALL&p=1&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO

    Dave Triplett (and others) have found cannabis oil to cure melanoma as he shows in his short movie about his own experience. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0tghUh4ubbg

    Cannabis has been proven to kill cancer cells in lab tests without harming the healthy cells present. http://www.gsalternative.com/2010/05/cannabinoids-kill-cancer/

    Many people have seen similar results personally, including a number of stage 4 cancer sufferers given ‘hemp oil’ by Rick Simpson in Canada, who were cured by ingesting it. (Rick said there was about a 70% recovery rate in those stage 4 folks; the rest died as their prognosis forecast.) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0psJhQHk_GI

    I have started a We The People petition asking the government to reveal what it knows about cannabis that is beneficial, since it has thus far only been releasing detrimental information. Until the petition receives 150 votes, you can only view and sign the petition here: http://wh.gov/4y0 (four y zero)

    Thank you for your time.