PROVIDENCE –– Nine medical marijuana plants being grown for five people dealing with epilepsy and chronic pain were stolen during a break-in at an apartment in Olneyville over the weekend –– the fourth time in about a year that this apartment has been hit by thieves seeking the plants.
Several rooms in the three-bedroom apartment had been converted into climate-controlled areas where the two caregivers were growing and harvesting marijuana for people in the state’s medical marijuana program. One of the caregivers, Domenic Parillo, said the break-ins started last year, when someone pushed an air conditioner aside, climbed into the apartment, and found the rooms where marijuana plants were growing.
Since then, every few months, someone breaks into the apartment and grabs an assortment of plants, Parillo said. This latest theft put the harvest behind about three weeks, he said, which means the patients will have to find other sources.
One is George DesRochers, a caregiver and medical-marijuana patient who testified at the General Assembly earlier this year in favor of legislation to create medical marijuana “compassion centers,” essentially safe and legal places for patients to obtain the drug. DesRochers told the legislators that he smokes marijuana to cope with chronic pain and fibromyalgia, but said there was no safe way for patients to obtain marijuana. He testified that he’d been robbed while trying to buy the drug on the street.
Under the Edward O. Hawkins and Thomas C. Slater Medical Marijuana Act, patients with debilitating medical conditions are allowed to possess up to 12 plants and 2.5 ounces of marijuana. The law also allows an adult without a felony drug conviction to serve as caregiver. Caregivers can help as many as five patients, and possess up to 24 plants and 5 ounces of marijuana.
To Parillo, the recent theft pointed out the need for compassion centers that could offer the kind of security that the average person can’t. He’s repaired and secured the places where thieves have gotten inside –– the last time was through a pantry window –– but he’s frustrated and hurt by the loss.
“I don’t want my medical cannabis in the hands of people who don’t deserve it,” Parillo said. “I’m not a criminal and I don’t want criminals benefiting from my hard work.”
By Amanda Milkovits