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Proposed Rules Would Burden Medical Marijuana Patients, ACLU Claims

Posted: November 22, 2016|Category: Medical Marijuana

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The ACLU of Rhode Island testified today against various provisions of proposed regulations governing the state's medical marijuana program that could impose new burdens on  patients and their certifying physicians. A hearing on the regulations, 99 pages long and proposed by the state Department of Health (DOH) and Department of Business Regulation (DBR), drew a large crowd and much testimony.

In detailed comments submitted to the two state agencies, the ACLU raised a number of concerns about the proposals. Among those concerns were the following:

       * Physicians would now be required to turn over to the DOH all "relevant" medical records that document the patient's medical condition authorizing their participation in the program. This would apply to all patients, including those who have been participating in the program for years. The ACLU noted that the rules fail to define what constitute "relevant" medical records, don't explain how the confidentiality of those records would be protected, and provide no guidance on how a DOH determination contrary to the physician's could be appealed. The ACLU argued that these were important issues "that need to be answered before the Department begins receiving sensitive medical records of participating patients."

       * Patients would have to see their physician at least twice a year for an "assessment" in order to have their medical marijuana card renewed. The ACLU argued that this new requirement  was "not only unnecessary for many patients, but it puts a significant financial burden on them," and would be particularly onerous for patients with mobility issues.

       * The rules fail to address a major problem that the ACLU has encountered of employers denying jobs to medical marijuana patients who test positive for marijuana on drug tests, notwithstanding statutory language barring employment discrimination against medical marijuana cardholders.

       * Although DBR is given statutory authority to determine "where cultivators are allowed to grow," the rules don't attempt to address actions by municipalities across the state seeking to use their zoning powers to effectively ban the cooperative cultivation of marijuana for medical use.

       * The proposal would give DBR, without any showing of need, broad access to compassion center video surveillance recordings of patients.

The ACLU urged the two agencies to carefully consider these concerns and revise the regulations accordingly.



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