PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Demonstrators marched outside the Rhode Island Statehouse Tuesday to protest a proposed tax on medical marijuana.
Gov. Gina Raimondo’s budget proposal calls for a decrease in the number of plants patients can grow by half, and patients would also have to pay $150 per plant while caregivers would have to pay $350 per plant.
“To put a tax on top of the economic challenges our patients are already facing, it’s just unconscionable,” RI Patient Advocacy Coalition Executive Director Joanne Leppanen said Tuesday.
More than fifty people gathered in downtown Providence to speak out against the tax, which is expected to generate upwards of $8 million in revenue for the state.
Leppanen said many people in the medical marijuana community are worried they’ll no longer be able to afford their medicine if the plan is enacted.
“The people who are here today are feeling an incredible sense of betrayal,” she added. “They’re angry and they’re scared.”
Patrick Rimoshytus, a retired firefighter who uses marijuana for pain and a caregiver himself, is worried about passing the added cost down to fellow users.
“It’s denying people’s access to medication as well as an unfair tax on the backs of sick people,” he said.
Raimondo’s office said she’ll be meeting with members of the medical marijuana community, adding that the tax is just a proposal and it’s still very early in the budget process.
Meanwhile, Rhode Island lawmakers are set to take up legislation this week that aims to legalize and regulate the use of marijuana in the state.