In a four-paragraph news release, Chafee said it “has been a difficult decision,” but he said he felt that issuing the licenses would be placing the owners of the dispensaries and anyone affiliated with their operation at risk of arrest and federal prosecution.
“I cannot implement a state marijuana cultivation and distribution system which is illegal under federal law, and which will become a target of federal law-enforcement efforts,” said Chafee in his statement. “Federal injunctions, seizures, forfeitures, arrests and prosecutions will only hurt the patients and caregivers that our law was designed to protect.”
In 2009, Rhode Island’s medical marijuana law was amended to allow for the creation of three state-licensed non-profit medical marijuana dispensaries. These three compassion centers would help very sick individuals legally acquire medical marijuana. Growing one’s own medical marijuana can take too long and be too difficult for individuals who are immediately suffering from debilitating medical conditions.
The creation of these three dispensaries was previously put on hold in May after President Obama’s Department of Justice sent the governor a letter threatening to prosecute those running the compassion centers under federal law.
The decision by Chafee is disappointing given that recently New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (R) faced a similar dilemma but in the end decided to allow his state to license the dispensaries.
The blame for why some very sick people in Rhode Island may not get the medical marijuana they need rests partially with Gov. Chafee for not implementing a law passed overwhelming by the state legislature, and more importantly with the Obama administration, which has repeatedly broken Obama’s campaign promise to respect state’s medical marijuana laws.