The Hummel Report

Investigative Reports That Get Results

A Rhode Island 501c3 Non-Profit

Getting Their Say

The second of three `compassion centers' - state-licensed distributors for medical marijuana - opens in Portsmouth next month over the objections of a local citizens group that says residents were bypassed in the approval process. This week Jim Hummel hears their concerns and sits down with one of the owners of the new center, who details what to expect when the doors open at the end of May.

 

 

 

SCRIPT:

The outside of the former auto body shop is nondescript for motorists passing by on West Main Road.

But inside there is a transformation going on that will culminate next month with the opening of Rhode Island's newest licensed dispensary for patients authorized to purchase medical marijuana.

The Greenleaf Compassion Center in Portsmouth will become the second of three dispensaries authorized by the Department of Health in what has been an stop-and-go process over the past several years.

Bock: ``The only people that can enter the facility through locked doors are people that are cardholders, and only cardholders that have specifically registered with our compassion center.''

Dr. Seth Bock is a Middletown acupuncturist and partner in Greenleaf, which beat out more than a dozen other applicants and will be the sole compassion center in the East Bay.

The other two are in Warwick and Providence.

Bock and his partners are putting a total of $600,000 into the venture, and expect to eventually serve several hundred patients after it opens May 31st. Given the product is being sold and grown here, the owners are investing heavily in security.  A bulletproof glass foyer will eventually greet customers when they are buzzed in after showing identification.

Bock: ``We take security very, very seriously. From my perspective, aside from providing the best medicine we can to people that need it, security is right up there with it.'

The original plan called for the center to be located on the back side of the Portsmouth Business Park, sandwiched in between a row of businesses. But Bock said the landlord got cold feet and there were odor concerns since marijuana will be cultivated on site. The new location is more visible and close to a bus stop.

The outside of the former auto body shop is nondescript for motorists passing by on West Main Road.

But inside there is a transformation going on that will culminate next month with the opening of Rhode Island's newest licensed dispensary for patients authorized to purchase medical marijuana.

The Greenleaf Compassion Center in Portsmouth will become the second of three dispensaries authorized by the Department of Health in what has been an stop-and-go process over the past several years.

Bock: ``The only people that can enter the facility through locked doors are people that are cardholders, and only cardholders that have specifically registered with our compassion center.''

Dr. Seth Bock is a Middletown acupuncturist and partner in Greenleaf, which beat out more than a dozen other applicants and will be the sole compassion center in the East Bay.

The other two are in Warwick and Providence.

Bock and his partners are putting a total of $600,000 into the venture, and expect to eventually serve several hundred patients after it opens May 31st. Given the product is being sold and grown here, the owners are investing heavily in security.  A bulletproof glass foyer will eventually greet customers when they are buzzed in after showing identification.

Bock: ``We take security very, very seriously. From my perspective, aside from providing the best medicine we can to people that need it, security is right up there with it.'

The original plan called for the center to be located on the back side of the Portsmouth Business Park, sandwiched in between a row of businesses. But Bock said the landlord got cold feet and there were odor concerns since marijuana will be cultivated on site. The new location is more visible and close to a bus stop.

Fitzmorris: ``If, in my judgment, if it had been placed before the people for a vote here, it would have failed. We would have launched a rather substantial opposition to it.''

Bock, who has a master's degree in Chinese herbal medicine,  says he feels strongly about the use of medicinal marijuana.

Bock: ``I watched two of my aunts die of cancer - they had cancer for long periods of time. And I watched them use this medicine - it kept them alive for a long time because they were able to complete their chemotherapy regimens.

 

They were not affected by the nausea in the way people are that don't have access to this medicine. I think some people have the feeling that the entire topic of medical marijuana being a medicine is a sham. And that it's all about us just making a lot of money and getting it to whoever wants it regardless of health parameters.''

While the center has limited parking, Bock says he expects it to be adequate and the center will make adjustments if necessary. He also says the owners plan to meet with neighbors who live just a few hundred feet from the back side of the building.

Bock: ``We're going to have an open house and we'll invite people who live in this neighborhood to come to it. This is before we open. Probably in that last week so they can drop by. There won't be any medicine on site, but we'll give  people an opportunity to come in and check it out.''

Hummel: ``It's not going to be like a taste test.''

Bock: ``No.''

Hummel: ``It won't be...there will be no sampling of the wares.''

Bock: "No, no, no, no, no, no no.''

Hummel: ``Get you shut down pretty quickly, right?''

Bock: ``Yeah. Yeah.''

Then there's the issue of the federal government  U.S.

 

Attorney Peter Neronha in the past has warned large-scale growers about potential prosecution. This week, a spokesman declined our request for a comment about the compassion centers.

Hummel: ``Do you have concerns about federal government.''

Bock: ``You know I  definitely have concerns about it. I'm a dad, I'm a husband, I'm as community member, I'm a family member.  Most of the time I'm a pretty good person. I'm in this for the right reason. I've worked with people that are desperate and have benefitted from this.

 

It's a program built on compassion - I have every intention of following that mission.  This is not legalization for  the masses - we're not putting this medicine into the hands of children, it's not going  into the black market - from every logical standpoint  this model is the  best model, probably in the country.''

In Portsmouth, Jim Hummel, for The Hummel Report.