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September 2007
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Medical marijuana in Rhode Island

A very nice story about the working medical marijuana program in Rhode Island: For more than 300 Rhode Islanders, marijuana provides legal relief
The article references our friend Tom Angell:

O‰Donnell, now 44, was a dynamo in a wheelchair, lobbying at the State House for marijuana to be made legal for the chronically ill in Rhode Island. Her son Tom Angell had brainstormed the idea with a friend in his dorm room at the University of Rhode Island. Angell, who was president of Students for a Sensible Drug Policy at the time, had heard a speaker hosted by the group whose wife used marijuana to relieve her pain. He thought about his mother.

Tom — don’t you know that kids in dorm rooms are supposed to be smoking pot — not plotting to overthrow the government and help sick people?
Another interesting moment in the article is this DEA comment:

Anthony Pettigrew, agent for the New England field office of the DEA, said that while marijuana possession is against federal law, ‹the DEA never targets the sick and dying.Š The agency is more interested in organized drug traffickers, Pettigrew said. ‹I‰ve been here for 22 years,Š he said, and ‹realistically, I‰ve never seen anyone go to federal jail for possessing a joint.Š

Scott Morgan notes:

If DEA won’t arrest patients and state police can’t arrest patients, then medical marijuana laws work very well. […]
It doesn’t matter whether DEA’s policy of not arresting patients is motivated by compassion, political sensibilities, funding constraints, or some combination thereof. The fact of the matter is that state laws are effective at protecting medical marijuana users from prosecution, which is their intended purpose.

And that’s true, with one caveat. The trick is, of course, that possessing one joint doesn’t solve the supply problem, and the point at which the amount you’re needing to grow or buy or have grown for you reaches the level of drug trafficking may be (and is) defined differently by patients, state laws, and the DEA — problem that could be easily solved by simply allowing marijuana to be regulated.

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