Rhode Island Senate passes medical marijuana bill

By chillinwill · Jun 10, 2009 · ·
  1. chillinwill
    A bill that would allow nonprofit stores in Rhode Island to sell marijuana to medical patients is headed to the governor's desk. The state Senate passed the bill Tuesday afternoon by a 30-2 margin.

    The bill has already passed the House and now heads to Governor Donald Carcieri for approval. The governor vetoed similar legislation last year.

    If it becomes law, the bill would allow so-called compassion centers to sell marijuana to registered patients with debilitating illnesses. Right now, 680 patients are registered with the Department of Health's medical marijuana program.

    State lawmakers approved the use of medical marijuana in 2006, however they never legalized the sale of the drug. Under the current bill, Rhode Island would be the third state in the country and the first on the East Coast to approve marijuana dispensaries for medical patients.

    “Sick patients and their caregivers shouldn’t have to risk their safety and deal with criminals to get the relief they need,” said bill sponsor Senator Rhode Perry (D-Dist. 3, Providence). “Rhode Island was compassionate enough a few years ago to recognize the benefit of marijuana for those who are suffering, and I’m proud that we’re now taking the next logical and necessary step and recognizing that patients need a safe, legal means to get it.”

    Governor Carcieri has a week to either sign the legislation or veto it. If he does nothing, the bill will automatically become law without his signature. The legislation passed each chamber with significantly more than the three-fifths majority necessary to override a veto.

    Updated: Tuesday, 09 Jun 2009, 8:21 PM EDT

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  1. Motorhead
    RI Becomes 3rd State Allowing Marijuana Stores

    By Ray Henry, Associated Press - Tuesday, June 16 2009
    [​IMG]Rhode Island became the third state in the nation Tuesday and the first on the East Coast to permit marijuana sales to chronically ill patients, a decision made over the objections of Gov. Don Carcieri.
    State lawmakers voted overwhelmingly to override a veto last week from the Republican governor, who warned the system could put people at risk of federal prosecution, would encourage illegal drug use and send conflicting messages to children about substance abuse.
    House lawmakers voted unanimously to override Carcieri's veto, while the Senate voted 35-3 to make the bill law.
    "This gives a safe haven for those who have to go into the seedy areas to try and get marijuana," said Rep. Thomas Slater, D-Providence, who suffers from cancer and plans to smoke the drug for pain relief. "I think that this center will definitely help those who most need it."
    Slater received a standing ovation on the House floor.
    Patients can buy marijuana at stores in California, while New Mexico in March granted a license to a medical marijuana grower. Karen O'Keefe, director of state policies for the Marijuana Policy Project in Washington, said the 13 states that have legalized medical marijuana are making a shift toward state-licensed production and distribution.
    Such legislation is being considered in Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina and Pennsylvania, while a ballot initiative is being circulated in Arizona. In November, Maine voters will decide whether to permit marijuana dispensaries in their state.
    "Combining regulated distribution with provisions for patients to grow a limited quantity for themselves is the best way to ensure safe access for patients, with solid safeguards to prevent abuse," O'Keefe said in a written statement.
    In 2006, Rhode Island began allowing chronically ill patients registered with the state Department of Health to possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana in usable form and 12 plants. But the state never created a legal way to buy marijuana, and patients here have reported being robbed or beaten when trying to buy it from street dealers.
    Marijuana remains illegal under federal law, but U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has said the Obama administration will not target dispensers that follow state law.

    From the Houston Chronicle
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