We are getting an inside look at Rhode Island's first
medical marijuana dispensary.
It's been in the works for four years, and it will soon
serve thousands of patients.
One patient says she's in desperate need of the drug.
The former school teacher lives in constant pain. The only
thing that helps, she says, is marijuana, so she converted her basement into a growing operation. But soon, people like her won't have to do that, because of compassion centers.
Ellen Lenox Smith is in so much pain she can't climb the
stairs, so she uses a motorized chair to get to the basement where
she grows her marijuana.
"It's the only thing I have," said Smith, "This is it."
Smith has had 21 surgeries for two rare conditions doctors
Without the oil she gets from marijuana, she can't
so she and her husband spend hours a day planting and growing dozens
of marijuana plants.
"We've done the best we could in the time we've waited
for the compassion center to open," said Smith, "We've taken on patients. We each have five
patients that we also grow for to help out the best we could."
Now after four years, there's some relief. A compassion center in Providence will open as early as
the end of April, serving five thousand medical marijuana patients like Smith.
"Right now there is no safe, accessible place where patients
can go and get their medicine, said Thomas Slater Compassion Center Spokesman Chris Reilly, "For us, all the medicine that we provide will be
tested by an independent lab to ensure that there are no molds or toxins, so
we're able to ensure that the medicine is safe."
Which in a couple years will likely be the only place Smith
will be able to turn.
With her deteriorating health, she knows she can't keep growing marijuana forever. And she definitely can't give up marijuana.
"Uh truth," said Smith, "We wouldn't be having this conversation. I
wouldn't be alive. I mean, I don't have anything else to turn to."
The Thomas Slater Compassion Center in Providence still needs the final
okay from the health department.
Patients are already signing up.
Two other centers in Portsmouth and Warwick are also in the