Becoming a Patient in Rhode Island

Summary

It is legal for a patient with a Rhode Island registry ID card to use marijuana for medical purposes. Patients may also grow marijuana and appoint a primary caregiver for assistance.

What's Legal

A patient may have up to twelve plants and two and one-half ounces of usable marijuana. Plants must be stored in an indoor facility.

Eligible Conditions

  • cancer
  • glaucoma
  • HIV/ AIDS
  • hepatitis C
  • cachexia or wasting syndrome
  • severe, debilitating, chronic pain
  • severe nausea
  • seizures, including those characteristic of epilepsy
  • severe and persistent muscle spasms, including those characteristic of multiple sclerosis and Crohn's disease
  • Alzheimer's disease
  • any other medical condition or treatment, approved by the DOH in the future

Application Process

There is a patient application fee of $75, but this fee can be reduced to $10 with proof of Medicaid, SSI, or SSDI. Application forms and instructions can be found at http://www.health.ri.gov/programs/medicalmarijuana/index.php. A written doctor's recommendation must be included with the application.

Doctor

Your doctor can only recommend medical marijuana after your doctor has completed a full assessment of your medical history. Your doctor must be licensed and have the ability to prescribe controlled substances.

Access/ Caregivers

You may designate a primary caregiver to assist you with cultivating and using medical marijuana. Your primary caregiver must be at least twenty-one (21) years old and cannot have a felony drug conviction. The Department of Health may allow a person to serve as a primary caregiver if he/she was convicted solely for conduct that is permitted under the Rhode Island medical marijuana provisions. The Department may also make an exception if the caregiver is your close relative and his/her felony conviction was ten (10) or more years ago.

A person can be a primary caregiver for no more than five (5) qualifying patients. A patient can only have up to two (2) primary caregivers. A primary caregiver with a registry ID card can possess up to twelve (12) marijuana plants and two and one-half (2.5) ounces of usable marijuana for each qualifying patient they are a primary caregiver for. A primary caregiver cannot have more than twenty-four (24) marijuana plants and five (5) ounces of usable marijuana no matter how many patients he or she is serving. A primary caregiver may receive reimbursement for costs associated with assisting a registered qualifying patient's medical use of marijuana.

Consumption

Don't smoke in public or on school grounds.

Age Limits

If the person is under 18 years of age, the patient's doctor must explain the potential risks and benefits of the medical use of marijuana to the qualified patient and to a parent, guardian or person having legal custody of the patient. The parent/guardian must consent in writing to:

  1. allow the patient's medical use of marijuana;
  2. serve as one of the patient's primary caregivers; and
  3. control the acquisition of, dosage and the frequency of the patient's use of marijuana.

Confidentiality

The department maintains a list of the persons to whom they have issued registry ID cards and is required to notify local and state law enforcement of the number of qualified patients in any given city or town. This list is confidential. If any person, including an employee or official of the department of health or another state agency or local government, breaches the confidentiality of information on this list, they can be punished by up to one hundred eighty days in jail and a $1,000 fine.

Housing

No landlord may refuse to lease to or otherwise penalize a person solely for his or her status as a medical marijuana patient or primary caregiver.

Employment

Employers may not rightfully terminate a qualified patient from her/his employment solely because of patient status. However, employers are not expected to accommodate the medical use of marijuana in any workplace.

Education

No school may refuse to enroll or otherwise penalize a person solely for his or her status as a registered qualifying patient or a registered primary caregiver.

Insurance

Rhode Island's medical marijuana law does not require a governmental, private, or any other health insurance provider or health care service plan to be liable for any claim for reimbursement for the medical use of marijuana.

However, patients receiving state assistance should inquire into discounted registration fees for the registry ID card.

Out of State Patients

Non-resident patients with state issued IDs from other states are entitled to protection under Rhode Island law.

For more information

http://www.health.ri.gov/programs/medicalmarijuana/index.php Department of Health

http://www.rilin.state.ri.us/PublicLaws/law05/law05443.htm text of the law

Medical Marijuana Program

Compassion Center Information

Information for Health Care Providers

Information for Patients and Caregivers