Rhode Island Makes Medical Marijuana Legal

House Overrides Governor's Veto of The Edward O. Hawkins and Thomas C. Slater Medical Marijuana Act

(read the Act, S 0710)

The Associated Press reported on Jan. 3, 2006 in an article by M.L. Johnson:

"Rhode Island on Tuesday [Jan. 3, 2006] became the 11th state* to legalize medical marijuana and the first since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in June that patients who use the drug can still be prosecuted under federal law.

The House overrode a veto by Gov. Don Carcieri, 59-13, allowing people with illnesses such as cancer and AIDS to grow up to 12 marijuana plants or buy 2.5 ounces of marijuana to relieve their symptoms. Those who do are required to register with the state and get an identification card.

Federal law prohibits any use of marijuana, but Maine, Vermont, Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Montana, Nevada, Oregon and Washington allow it to be grown and used for medicinal purposes....

'I'm sure everybody in this room knows at least one person who would have benefited from medical marijuana,' Rep. Thomas Slater, who has cancer, told fellow lawmakers before the vote. Slater said he doesn't use marijuana now but it could become part of his treatment in the future."
Jan. 3, 2006 Associated Press

*Editor's Note: Although the Associated Press has listed Rhode Island as the 11th state to legalize medical marijuana, Maryland passed Senate Bill 502 in 2003, allowing for a medical necessity defense and a maximum penalty of $100. The inclusion of Maryland and Rhode Island means that 12 states have active laws favoring medical marijuana. ProCon.org contacted the Associated Press on 01/04/06 to request a clarification.

The act takes effect upon passage (Jan. 3, 2006) and would expire on June 30, 2007. The new regulations require Rhode Island's Department of Health to promulgate rules and regulations within 90 days of the effective date of the legislation.

Timeline of "The Edward O. Hawkins and Thomas C. Slater Medical Marijuana Act":

  1. Feb. 17, 2005: Rhode Island's medical marijuana bill S 0710 is introduced into the State Senate by Senators Perry, Polisena, Damiani, McCaffrey, and Sosnowski

  2. June 24, 2005: passes the House by a vote of 52 to 10

  3. June 28, 2005: passes the State Senate by a vote of 33 to 1

  4. June 29, 2005: Gov. Donald L. Carcieri vetoes the bill

  5. June 30, 2005: Senate votes to override the veto by a vote of 28-6

  6. Jan. 3, 2006: House votes to override the veto by a vote of 59-13

See our summary of state medical marijuana laws.