PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- Twenty one candidates have filed applications to open medical-marijuana compassion centers in Rhode Island.
The deadline for the new round of applications was noon Friday. Annemarie Beardsworth, spokeswoman for the Health Department, said she did not know whether the 15 former applicants who were previously rejected had re-filed.
She said that it will take "a matter of weeks" for the department to review the new applications for completeness "to make sure everything we asked for was included in the application." Once an application is deemed complete, she said, it will be posted on-line for public inspection on the Department of Health's website.
The 21 new applicants are each vying to become one of up to three medical-marijuana compassion centers the state has agreed to open to serve the 2,156 chronically ill and pain-debilitated patients currently registered in the program.
Currently, the state also licenses 1,753 caregivers who are each allowed to grow up to 24 plants (or a maximum of 12 plants per patient.)
The compassion centers would be another legal avenue for the patients to get their marijuana.
Beardsworth said the Health Department hopes to make a final decision on who can run a compassion center by March or April of next year but that no center will be up and running by early spring. She said that after the department makes its final decision, those who have been okayed to run the centers will have to get their dispensaries ready, get staff in place and pass a building inspection by Health Department personnel before they will be permitted to open. They will also have to comply, Beardsworth said, with any applicable municipal ordinances.
In September, the Department of Health, in a surprise move, announced that none of the 15 applicants seeking to open the state's first compassion center for medical-marijuana patients were qualified to open their doors. The department said that all of the applicants -- which included a former state auditor general, an acupuncturist, a retired Cranston police chief and a longtime educator -- "either failed to meet the minimum scoring requirements or they were disqualified from review for failing to comply with the application requirements."
David R. Gifford, Health Department director, said at the time that he was optimistic that by clarifying the application process "we will have a clearer process going forward that will yield at least one successful application."
Beardsworth says that currently, the state is receiving about 75 new applications per week from patients who've been certified by physicians as eligible for registration cards for the medical marijuana program.
Fri, Nov 12, 2010
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