R.I. House approves medical marijuana law

May 23, 2007

, Associated Press

House lawmakers voted Wednesday to make the state's medical marijuana program permanent, setting up a conflict with Gov. Don Carcieri who previously vetoed the measure. The bill passed by a 51-12 vote, a margin wide enough to override a veto, said Larry Berman, a spokesman for House Speaker William Murphy.

Rhode Island became the eleventh state in the country last year to legalize marijuana for medical purposes. Under the program, patients with cancer, AIDS and other debilitating illnesses can possess up to 12 marijuana plants and 2.5 usable ounces of the drug to ease their symptoms. The program expires June 30 unless lawmakers extend it.

Selling and possessing marijuana remains illegal under federal law.

A Senate committee voted 7-1 Wednesday to forward an identical bill for a full floor vote tentatively scheduled next week, said Greg Pare, a spokesman for Senate President Joseph Montalbano.

Legislative leaders say both bills will be sent to Carcieri after next week's final vote.

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