I saw the below press release go out from Representative Nardolillo, via Marijuana Majority's Twitter feed:
In response to a proposal by Gov. Gina Raimondo to impose new fees on medical marijuana plants, Rep. Robert A. Nardolillo III (R-Dist. 28, Coventry) has voiced his opposition to the plan, calling it an unconscionable tax on sick people.
"The patients and caregivers who grow these plants do so because of legitimately illnesses that just happen to not respond to traditional forms of communication," said Representative Nardolillo. "Many of these people wake up every day having to figure out how they're going to manage they're pain. Putting taxes on these plants is tantamount to charging people a fee to be sick."
The proposal by Governor Raimondo would require a tag for each marijuana plant, charging patients $150 for each of the six plants they are allowed to cultivate. Caregivers, who can provide medical marijuana for up to five patients and cultivate up to 24 plants, would be charged $350 per plant.
Patients and advocates have decried the proposal, saying it would make affording the medicine an impossibility, since it isn't covered by insurance and they can't afford the cost of medical marijuana at the state's three compassion centers.
"This proposal would certainly never fly with any other form of medication," said Representative Nardolillo. "Can you imagine if a proposal was made to tax a specific medication? These are Rhode Islanders who are suffering."
According to the Department of Health, more than 10,000 people in Rhode Island carry medical marijuana cards to treat an approved list of conditions, including cancer, glaucoma, AIDS, hepatitis C, Crohn's disease and Alzheimer's, among others.
Legislation (2016-H 7142) introduced this session by Rep. Scott A. Slater (D-Dist. 10, Providence) would add post-traumatic stress disorder to the list of conditions. A similar bill (2016-S 2115) has been introduced in the Senate by Sen. Stephen R. Archambault (D-Dist. 22, Smithfield, North Providence, Johnston).