Rhode Island Medical Marijuana Bill Made Permanent
Governor's Veto Was Overridden by State Legislature

The Associated Press reported in a June 21, 2007 article titled "Rhode Island Adopts Permanent Medical Marijuana Program":

"Rhode Island lawmakers permanently extend a program allowing the chronically ill to possess and smoke marijuana for pain relief.

Lawmakers in the House and Senate easily mustered the three-fifths majority needed to override Governor Carcieri's veto. [...]

Until the vote, the program was set to expire June 30th. It allows patients with cancer, AIDS and other debilitating illnesses to possess up to 12 marijuana plants and two-and-a-half usable ounces of the drug."
June 21, 2007 Associated Press

Donald L. Carcieri, Governor (R) of Rhode Island, stated on June 4, 2007 in his "veto message" released upon his veto of SB 791, Rhode Island's Medical Marijuana Act, as reported in the June 5, 2007 Pawtucket Times article "Governor Busts Medical Marijuana Bill," by Jim Baron:

"As I said in my veto message in 2005, I support efforts to provide effective pain management to persons suffering from debilitating conditions, but not in a way that violates federal law and ignores the drug approval process as established by the Food and Drug Administration.

[This legislation] could potentially subject Rhode Islanders to federal prosecution, while significantly complicating the responsibilities of state and local law enforcement officials."
June 4, 2007 Donald L. Carcieri

Gordon D. Fox, Majority Leader of the Rhode Island House of Representatives, stated in the June 5, 2007 The Providence Journal article "Carcieri Vetoes Medical Marijuana," by Michael McKinney:

"I fully expect that we will place a vote to override the governor's medical marijuana veto on the floor calendar before the end of our session. [It is] clear that there is an overwhelming majority in the House willing to remove the sunset clause on this compassionate legislation."
June 4, 2007 Gordon D. Fox

2007 Legislation:
Senate Bill 791 (SB 791) (PDF 30KB), will amend Rhode Island's Edward O. Hawkins and Thomas C. Slater Medical Marijuana Act (SB710), which is scheduled to automatically expire on June 30, 2007 unless amended by the state legislature.


2005 Legislation:
Senate Bill 710 (SB710) (PDF 39KB), known as the "Edward O. Hawkins and Thomas C. Slater Medical Marijuana Act." The Governor's veto was over-ridden by both the state house and senate to become law.

Timeline of the Edward O. Hawkins and Thomas C. Slater Medical Marijuana Act
June 24SB 710 passed the State House 52 to 10
June 28SB 710 passed the State Senate 33 to 1
June 29Gov. Carcieri vetoes SB 710
June 30State Senate overrides the veto 28-6
Jan. 3State House overrides the veto 59-13
Jan. 3SB 710 become law
May 2State House votes 49-12 to approve their version of SB 791
May 3State Senate votes 28-5 to approve their version of SB 791
May 23SB 791 passed the State House 51-12, as amended.
May 30SB 791 transmitted to state Governor
June 4SB 791 vetoed by Governor
June 20Governor's veto overridden by Senate, 29-4
June 21Governor's veto overridden by House, 58-11


Governor Carcieri stated on May 2, 2007, as reported in the Jim Baron article "House Oks Bill To Make Medical Marijuana Permanent," published May 3, 2007 in The Call:

"It’s illegal. The Supreme Court has ruled it is illegal. We are putting people in a position of having to acquire this illegally. I don’t know why as a state we think this is a good thing to do. I understand the empathy for people in pain and suffering who get some relief from this, but I think from a public policy standpoint it is really ill-advised."

Gov. Carcieri had previously stated on June 30, 2005 when he vetoed SB710:

"[SB 710's] noble goals cannot mask its serious safety flaws. Our desire as public servants to be compassionate must be balanced by our obligation to ensure public safety. The flaws inherent in this bill will place our children at an increased risk of abusing marijuana... [and] give our citizens a false sense of security against criminal prosecution."
May 2, 2007 Donald L. Carcieri