House Passes Medical Marijuana Bill

June 23, 2005

Associated Press, NBC 10 (Providence)

House lawmakers overwhelmingly approved a bill Wednesday that would allow patients with certain serious diseases to smoke and grow marijuana.

The measure passed 52-10 after debate on the House floor.

Patients with diseases including cancer and AIDS would be shielded from arrest and prosecution under the bill. Their doctors and physicians also would be protected.

Rhode Island would become the 11th state to authorize the medical use of marijuana, according to the legislation.

If approved, the bill could put the state at odds with the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled earlier this month that medical marijuana users could be prosecuted under federal law even if their home states allow use of the drug.

Patients would be able to possess up to 12 marijuana plants or two and a half ounces of usable marijuana.

Supporters say it provides a compassionate way to ease the pain of the seriously ill. But some questioned a provision allowing people to grow the drug in their homes.

The House Health, Education and Welfare Committee was expected to take a Senate bill and conform it with the House version. That bill would then return to both chambers.

Governor Don Carcieri has threatened to veto the bill. But legislators said it had enough votes to override a veto.

The Senate passed the bill, 34-2, two weeks ago.

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