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Jun-16-2009 14:23printcomments

Rhode Island to License Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

Move is Hailed as Historic as Legislature Overrides Veto; Rhode Island Is First State to Expand an Existing Medical Marijuana Law to Permit Dispensaries.

Rhode Island Legislative chambers
Rhode Island Legislative chambers

(PROVIDENCE, R.I.) - In a historic first, Rhode Island legislators today made their state the first ever to expand an existing medical marijuana law to allow for state-licensed compassion centers to grow and distribute marijuana to registered patients.

Legislators easily overrode the veto issued by Gov. Donald Carcieri with override votes of 68-0 in the House and 35-3 in the Senate.

Rhode Island's medical marijuana law, like most such state laws, did not set up a formal distribution system, but simply allowed patients to grow a limited quantity of medical marijuana for their own use or designate a caregiver to grow it for them.

In March, New Mexico became the first state to grant a state license to a medical marijuana producer, pursuant to legislation passed last year.

"We are seeing a historic shift to allowing state-licensed, regulated medical marijuana production and distribution," said Karen O'Keefe, director of state policies for the Marijuana Policy Project in Washington, D.C.

"Combining regulated distribution with provisions for patients to grow a limited quantity for themselves is the best way to assure safe access for patients, with solid safeguards to prevent abuse."

States where medical marijuana bills that include a dispensary provision are under consideration include Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina and Pennsylvania, and a similar ballot initiative is now being circulated in Arizona. This November, Maine voters will vote on a ballot initiative to add dispensaries to the state's medical marijuana law.

"During the Bush administration, the Drug Enforcement Administration raided medical marijuana patients and caregivers in California, leaving states hesitant to set up state-regulated distribution," said MPP director of government relations Aaron Houston.

"Now that the Obama administration has announced a policy change, state legislators seem to feel safer adopting a sensible, regulated system of medical marijuana distribution that avoids the mistakes of California, where dispensaries sprang up with no rules. This is a historic step forward."


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Emma Cay October 27, 2011 5:41 pm (Pacific time)

Great post. Sounds like medical marijuana is coming around in the legal world.

Alex October 19, 2009 9:38 pm (Pacific time)

holy crap i love you Al-Fu. That was a great idea and it was hilarious. I'm transferring to URI next year if all goes well, and this is just another plus!

GandolfTheWise September 1, 2009 7:14 pm (Pacific time)

reply to Al-Fu above - BAD IDEA! Never let the government have complete control of anything as they will just louse it up for everyone (except their own friends, of course) - let them charge for a business license and collect taxes, and then keep their mitts off!

Al-Fu July 20, 2009 11:18 am (Pacific time)

The State of Rhode Island is on the right track but needs to consider a more professional approach to the growing and distribution aspects. There is a lot of revenue that could be generated for the state by allowing the University of Rhode Island grow the marijuana. The Collage is already equip t and could then do the research and studies. Maybe even offer a class. Then the state could open a few dispensaries across the state. By having the product produced by the state for the state, it becomes a profitable self sustained entity with a continuous tax revenue for the state. And besides that, think of how many kids would want to come to U-R-High to study the economic, political and cultural impacts of the cultivation and consumption of marijuana. Even more revenue.

Bill June 23, 2009 6:16 pm (Pacific time)

accessing drugs by legal means is the only way to keep control of them.

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