Decision coming June 18 on medical marijuana business

Decision coming June 18 on medical marijuana business

SMITHFIELD - The Town Council is expected to decide June 18 whether a medical marijuana consulting business shut down by municipal officials can re-open its office at 2 Esmond St.

According to Town Manager Dennis Finlay, the decision hinges on whether the operation started by RICaregivers in April is deemed an authorized use in the Light Industrial zone and whether the 4,000 square feet of leased office space meets all building and fire codes.

Company directors, who say they are registered marijuana medical users themselves, maintain the zoning is appropriate and that they have broken no laws.

They were shut down April 23 when the municipal zoning office determined that although they described themselves as a medical office, no licensed medical professional was involved with the organization.

Company officers say they use their personal experience to guide clients and that the consulting service they propose is allowed under the zoning ordinance.

Although they told the council at a recent meeting that they do not grow marijuana in the office, Police Chief Richard St. Sauveur Jr. has expressed concern because people affiliated with the firm, who are legally authorized to grow 12 plants each, are apparently using nearby leased quarters to grow their personal supplies.

He says the presence of marijuana plants in the area will lead to violence, and has also noted that one of the company's directors, Garrett Romano, was arrested recently in Warwick and charged with possession of psychedelic mushrooms. The case has not yet been adjudicated.

Company representatives maintain that the growing operation is unrelated to their consulting business and that asking them to divulge information about it is a violation of their privacy rights under HIPAA, the federal Health Insurance and Portability Accountability Act.

Although RICaregivers is not one of three "Compassion Centers" authorized under state law, the statute permits other operations to exist as long as no marijuana is sold and any that is given away does not exceed 2.5 ounces for a single recipient.

Company officials told The Valley Breeze & Observer last month that they might provide legal-sized samples of medical marijuana to clients from their personal supplies, but that the core mission of the firm is to offer a wide range of advice to certified users, including what varieties of marijuana would be best for individual clients and how to grow the plants.