MJ Group Says No Connection Between Cannabis and RI Fire

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A medical marijuana advocacy group whose office is housed in a Providence, Rhode Island building that caught fire last week says neither it nor another cannabis organization had anything to do with the outbreak of the blaze.

JoAnne Leppanen, spokeswoman for the Rhode Island Patient Advocacy Coalition (RIPAC), said Monday she’s afraid the coincidence could be used as ammunition by marijuana opponents to crack down on the MMJ industry and promote stricter state regulations.

“The fire didn’t even affect where we are. It didn’t even touch our (office),” Leppanen said, and added that stories tying the two groups to the fire is “promoting unfounded fears about growing, and it’s wrong.”

Leppanen said that the theory that volatile cannabis extraction processes which use butane may have played a role in the fire is baseless.

“It’s so ridiculous to think that we would have anything to do with butane. It’s laughable,” Lepannen said. “Nobody should be talking about our organization with reference to causing fires, whether by growing or with butane, which we oppose.”

Rather, Leppanen said, media reports that tied the two organizations to the fire were purely circumstantial, because her group and the Cannabis Producers Association of New England (CPANE) had had office space in the building. Leppanen said that to the best of her knowledge, CPANE has been defunct for some time. According to another news report, nobody was in the building when the fire began.

No one from CPANE could be reached for comment, and the Rhode Island state fire marshal’s office did not return a call seeking comment.