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AG Kilmartin and Ocean State Prevention Alliance Question Compassion Center Promotions and Discounts on Medical Marijuana

Upon receiving an email from the state-licensed Thomas C Slater Compassion Center promoting a sale on a certain type of marijuana product asking the question, "Tired of the Winter Blues," Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin and the Ocean State Prevention Alliance call for an end of promotional marketing and advertising of marijuana by compassion centers.

"Traditional pharmacies are prohibited from offering discounts on Scheduled drugs that have medicinal purposes. Can you imagine the public outcry if the local pharmacy started offering '1/2 off Oxycontin' or other medicinal drugs? Compassion centers should be held to same standard and should be prohibited from offering discounts or sales on medicinal marijuana," said Attorney General Kilmartin. "I support the use of medical marijuana for its intended purposes. I support that medical marijuana be distributed through properly licensed and regulated facilities, but this type of advertising flies in the face of the intent and spirit of the law to provide medical relief. This advertisement only encourages people to rid themselves of the winter blues with the weekly special.

Under the Edward O. Hawkins and Thomas C. Slater Medical Marijuana Act R. I. Gen. Laws §21-28.6-1, et. seq. and Rules and Regulations promulgated thereto, Compassion Centers are primary caregivers who are registered to assist registered patients alleviate their debilitating condition or symptoms.

The legislative findings of the Act, specifically, §21-28.6-2(5) states "[s]tate law should make a distinction between the medical and nonmedical use of marijuana. Hence, the purpose of this chapter is to protect patients with debilitating medical conditions, and their physicians and primary caregivers, from arrest and prosecution, criminal and other penalties, and property forfeiture if such patients engage in the medical use of marijuana." Emphasis Added.

"Nearly 50 percent of RI teens do NOT believe that marijuana use does have an impact on their studies, their driving, their motivation or their emotions, even though science proves it does. A simple prevention law is that when perception of risk is low, use increases – and it has in RI. We are in the Top Five states for teen marijuana use. This kind of advertising clearly promotes that false perception that marijuana is a harmless recreation drug that can be used to cure the winter blues and, thereby, it increases the likelihood that yet another RI youth will think it's okay to try it 'just once.' Because compassion center advertising is unregulated in RI, until it is, we urge compassion centers to keep kids in mind when they plan their advertising – and exercise some social responsibility," said Nancy DeNuccio , Chairman of the Ocean State Prevention Alliance, a coalition of prevention and mental health specialists whose mission is to ensure that marijuana legislation in RI does not have a negative impact on RI youth.

Advertising of this nature does not draw the necessary distinction between medical and non-medical use. It actually blurs this distinction and flies in the face of the intent of this law that was enacted to provide compassion.

This is not the first time the Thomas C. Slater compassion center offered discounts or free marijuana products through advertising. As part of its "12 Days of Christmas" promotion, the Center offered free Rice Krisipie treats with purchase, "buy an 1/8 and get a second 1/8 at half price, among other promotions.

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