House Finance Committee members heard differing opinions Tuesday night on Gov. Gina Raimondo’s plan to expand and further regulate the state’s medical marijuana program.

Tom Mooney Journal Staff Writer Mooneyprojo

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — House Finance Committee members heard differing opinions Tuesday night on Gov. Gina Raimondo’s plan to expand and further regulate the state’s medical marijuana program — much of it based on the three major issues at stake:

Access to medicine. A reduction in black market pot dealing. And the money to be made — or lost.

Raimondo wants to add 12 new dispensaries to the decade-old program. State regulators have currently licensed 24 new cultivator businesses to supply those new storefronts as well as the state’s three existing dispensaries — provided the new dispensaries get approved.

At the same time Raimondo’s plan also calls for cracking down further on “home grows” that traditionally have supplied most of the medical program — and contributed to medical marijuana being sold on the black market.

Ellen Lenox Smith, of Scituate, a medical marijuana patient and “caregiver” grower for other patients, urged lawmakers not to endorse the entire proposal.

While she supported more dispensaries, or compassion centers, as they have traditionally been called, she objected to eliminating the altruistic home growing that she and others have done to help so many.

“Why hassle people like me trying to help other people,” she said. (The proposal would limit how many patients caregivers could grow medicine for and make it illegal to also “gift” medicine to those who need it.) “Listen to your heart and remember this program is not as broken as some say.”

Under the proposal, marijuana grown in cultivation centers will eventually be tested by independent third-party companies for contaminants, a process that doesn’t happen now with home-grown marijuana or is

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