During a state senate hearing on Thursday many voiced their opposition to Governor Raimondo’s plan for new, increased oversight for the state’s medical marijuana program. Her proposed changes would require registered growers of marijuana, known as “caregivers”, to put tracking devices on their plants that would cost between $150 and $350 per plant. The idea is that the new system will make it clear to law enforcement which caregivers are using plants illegally.
However, there had been a great deal of pushback from patients, caregivers, and lawmakers alike. Sen. John Pagliarini voiced his opposition to the bill stating that if the state taxed medical marijuana plants it would have to start taxing all prescription drugs in the state and that, “Taxing sick people is wrong.” The Governor responded with a letter to the committee saying she was open to discussing changes to the bill and has promised a revised proposal. Such a proposal has yet to be released, however.
The state budget had planned to earn $8.5 million in revenue from the new regulations, but patients have said the state has overestimated the value of the plants. The Office of Management and Budget stated that it had to make many assumptions and guesses in its calculations. The head of the department, John Womer, said that it was not, “…a very certain estimate.” Many fear that the cost of these new regulations will drive people back into the illegal sale of marijuana which defeats a large purpose of legalizing its medical use.