Warren medical marijuana advocate arrested by State Police

Patrick Rimoshytus, who opened Green Cross of Rhode Island on Metacom Avenue in late 2015, was arrested at second location in Providence

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A Warren man who advocates for the use of medical marijuana in Rhode Island says he was set up by police who raided a private club he owns in Providence, seizing as much as 11 pounds of marijuana and marijuana candy last month.

Patrick Rimoshytus, 47, a retired Newport fire fighter, is a medical marijuana patient and caregiver licensed by the State of Rhode Island. Though he opened his Green Cross of Rhode Island private club at 654 Metacom Avenue in late 2015, his arrest occurred at a second location he runs on Gano Street in Providence.

Mr. Rimoshytus was charged on Wednesday, Feb. 15, after an undercover Rhode Island State Police officer visited the center and used an expired patient’s card to secure medical marijuana.

Mr. Rimoshytus said the club was very busy at the time, and a female employee checked the man’s ID card and failed to notice that it had expired.

Though the center is not authorized to sell medical marijuana and the man was not a member of Green Cross, licensed patients and prospective club members are allowed to make a one-time donation and in return, Mr. Rimoshytus said they are “gifted” medical marijuana. As the man walked out after making a donation and receiving medical marijuana, Mr. Rimoshytus said he stopped him and asked to see his card. After looking at it and noting that it was expired, he said, “I told him that the next time you come by, have your card. I let him go.”

Soon after, state police raided the center, seizing medical marijuana and mild marijuana-laced candy. Mr. Rimoshytus said that since his name is on the lease, police charged him with possession of all of the marijuana and candy found during the raid, though he said most of it belonged to caregivers who were there at the time. In total, he faces charges of conspiracy to deliver a controlled substance and multiple counts of possession with intent to deliver between one kilogram (2.2 pounds) and five kilograms (11 pounds) of marijuana.

“They singled me out,” Mr. Rimoshytus said. “I had about 15 to 16 ounces of (marijuana) flower here with four” caregivers.

“That and the candy, which is 99.9 percent sugar and water, which is where most of the weight was.”

Mr. Rimoshytus opened his Green Cross in Warren, and then later in Providence, to give patients an alternative to the state’s privately run “compassion centers,” which are licensed to sell medical marijuana directly to patients. He said those compassion centers are often prohibitively expensive, and the original and continuing goal for Green Cross is to act as a safe and secure place where patients can meet with caregivers, licensed growers, who can often supply at much lower prices. He suspects police went after him because the Slater Center, a compassion center in Providence, is owned by several retired police officers.

“They weren’t after me for the year and a half I was in Warren, but I open in Providence and this happens. It looks like they went after me,” he said.

“They know I don’t have any financial support; all they have to do is make me close my doors for a month, and I’ll be out of business. That’s what they’re trying to do.”

To date, that closure has not occurred, as he has not received notice from that state that officials are taking any action against Green Cross. However, Mr. Rimoshytus said the arrest has already scared off potential club members who could have benefited from medical marijuana. He said that shortly after news of his arrest broke, an 82-year-old cancer and leukemia patient who uses medical marijuana for his pain left Green Cross empty-handed after hearing the news.

“He was very nervous and thought the state police were going to arrest him if he walked out into the parking lot with medical marijuana,” he said. “This is the kind of thing that’s happening.

Mr. Rimoshytus is holding a fund-raiser for his legal defense on Sunday, March 26, at the Tetra Hydro Club in Wakefield.

As for the Warren location, which he closed several months ago, Mr. Rimoshytus said he hopes to re-open if he can successfully petition the Warren Town Council to amend zoning regulations which currently do not allow for the growing of cannabis in town.

If approved, his plan is to continue the cooking and growing classes that he ran out of the Warren location, as well as to grow on the site. The club would also continue to serve as a meeting place for medical marijuana caregivers and patients.

Before opening Green Cross in Warren, Mr. Rimoshytus was known for his actions in saving a woman from a burning car at Schoolhouse Road and Market Street on Dec. 19, 2012. He suffered significant burns in the rescue and was later awarded the Carnegie Medal, from the Carnegie Hero Fund Commission, for his actions.

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