PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP/WPRI) — Medical marijuana advocates are opposing an annual $350-per-plant fee that Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo wants to impose on some growers as part of her revenue plan.
Advocates held a news conference Thursday, the same day state lawmakers introduced a bill to legalize and tax recreational marijuana.
Jared Moffat of Regulate Rhode Island says it’s wrong for Raimondo to tax people who need marijuana for medical reasons. He supports putting the burden on recreational users.
Peter Benson told Eyewitness News he has been using medical marijuana for years – because it was the only thing that worked for him after he was seriously injured as a kid.
“Medical marijuana gave me my life back,” he said. “And my relationship not only with my daughter but with my wife.”
Benson said he is concerned his days of using medical marijuana might be over because of Raimondo’s proposed budget.
“I’m not just going to lose my medicine, my family unit is going to be disrupted,” he said.
At a news conference at the ACLU Thursday, Benson and other caregivers said they shouldn’t have to pay a fee for medicine, saying the cost would effectively shut them down.
“This will probably take my life,” Bobby Brady-Cataldo of Scituate said Thursday.
“We could wake up tomorrow and read the paper that it’s all over and this is it,” added Ellen Smith of Scituate. “This is my life we’re talking, this is their lives. I don’t have anything else to turn to. This is it.”
Governor Raimondo’s office released a statement Thursday in regards to the proposed medical marijuana changes:
“The proposed reforms improve oversight and enforcement of the state’s medical marijuana program, bring order to part of the program which has had undefined rules, expand access for patients and improve the patient experience.”
State Sen. Joshua Miller and Rep. Scott Slater, both Democrats, planned to introduce bills legalizing recreational marijuana in the Senate and House on Thursday. Similar bills have failed in previous years.
Raimondo’s proposed medical pot tax would charge patients $150 a year for each plant grown at home and $350 for caregivers and cultivators.