The Edward O. Hawkins and Thomas C. Slater Medical Marijuana Act

SECTION 21-28.6-1

   § 21-28.6-1  Short title. – This chapter shall be known and may be cited as "The Edward O. Hawkins and Thomas C. Slater Medical Marijuana Act."

SECTION 21-28.6-2

   § 21-28.6-2  Legislative findings. – The general assembly finds and declares that:

   (1) Modern medical research has discovered beneficial uses for marijuana in treating or alleviating pain, nausea and other symptoms associated with certain debilitating medical conditions, as found by the National Academy of Sciences' Institute of Medicine in March 1999.

   (2) According to the U.S. Sentencing Commission and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, ninety-nine (99) out of every one hundred (100) marijuana arrests in the United States are made under state law, rather than under federal law. Consequently, changing state law will have the practical effect of protecting from arrest the vast majority of seriously ill people who have a medical need to use marijuana.

   (3) Although federal law currently prohibits any use of marijuana, the laws of Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington permit the medical use and cultivation of marijuana. Rhode Island joins in this effort for the health and welfare of its citizens.

   (4) States are not required to enforce federal law or prosecute people for engaging in activities prohibited by federal law. Therefore, compliance with this chapter does not put the state of Rhode Island in violation of federal law.

   (5) State law should make a distinction between the medical and nonmedical use of marijuana. Hence, the purpose of this chapter is to protect patients with debilitating medical conditions, and their physicians and primary caregivers, from arrest and prosecution, criminal and other penalties, and property forfeiture if such patients engage in the medical use of marijuana.

(6) The general assembly enacts this chapter pursuant to its police power to enact legislation for the protection of the health of its citizens, as reserved to the state in the Tenth Amendment of the United States Constitution.

SECTION 21-28.6-3

   § 21-28.6-3  Definitions. – For the purposes of this chapter:

   (1) "Cardholder" means a qualifying patient, a primary caregiver, or a principal officer, board member, employee, volunteer, or agent of a compassion center who has been issued and possesses a valid registry identification card.

   (2) "Compassion center" means a not-for-profit corporation subject to the provisions of chapter 7-6, and registered under § 21-28.6-12 that acquires, possesses, cultivates, manufactures, delivers, transfers, transports, supplies or dispenses marijuana, and/or related supplies and educational materials, to registered qualifying patients and/or their registered primary caregivers who have designated it as one of their primary caregivers.

   (3) "Debilitating medical condition" means:

   (i) Cancer, glaucoma, positive status for human immunodeficiency virus, acquired immune deficiency syndrome, Hepatitis C, or the treatment of these conditions;

   (ii) A chronic or debilitating disease or medical condition or its treatment that produces one or more of the following: cachexia or wasting syndrome; severe, debilitating, chronic pain; severe nausea; seizures, including but not limited to, those characteristic of epilepsy; or severe and persistent muscle spasms, including but not limited to, those characteristic of multiple sclerosis or Crohn's disease; or agitation of Alzheimer's Disease; or

   (iii) Any other medical condition or its treatment approved by the department, as provided for in § 21-28.6-5.

   (4) "Department" means the Rhode Island department of health or its successor agency.

   (5) "Marijuana" has the meaning given that term in § 21-28-1.02(26).

   (6) "Mature marijuana plant" means a marijuana plant which has flowers or buds that are readily observable by an unaided visual examination.

   (7) "Medical use" means the acquisition, possession, cultivation, manufacture, use, delivery, transfer, or transportation of marijuana or paraphernalia relating to the consumption of marijuana to alleviate a registered qualifying patient's debilitating medical condition or symptoms associated with the medical condition.

   (8) "Practitioner" means a person who is licensed with authority to prescribe drugs pursuant to chapter 37 of title 5 or a physician licensed with authority to prescribe drugs in Massachusetts or Connecticut.

   (9) "Primary caregiver" means either a natural person who is at least twenty-one (21) years old or a compassion center. A natural person primary caregiver may assist no more than five (5) qualifying patients with their medical use of marijuana.

   (10) "Qualifying patient" means a person who has been diagnosed by a practitioner as having a debilitating medical condition and is a resident of Rhode Island.

   (11) "Registry identification card" means a document issued by the department that identifies a person as a registered qualifying patient, a registered primary caregiver, or a registered principal officer, board member, employee, volunteer, or agent of a compassion center.

   (12) "Seedling" means a marijuana plant with no observable flowers or buds.

   (13) "Unusable marijuana" means marijuana seeds, stalks, seedlings, and unusable roots.

   (14) "Usable marijuana" means the dried leaves and flowers of the marijuana plant, and any mixture or preparation thereof, but does not include the seeds, stalks, and roots of the plant.

   (15) "Written certification" means the qualifying patient's medical records, and a statement signed by a practitioner, stating that in the practitioner's professional opinion the potential benefits of the medical use of marijuana would likely outweigh the health risks for the qualifying patient. A written certification shall be made only in the course of a bona fide practitioner-patient relationship after the practitioner has completed a full assessment of the qualifying patient's medical history. The written certification shall specify the qualifying patient's debilitating medical condition or conditions.

SECTION 21-28.6-5

   § 21-28.6-5  Department to issue regulations. – (a) Not later than ninety (90) days after the effective date of this chapter, the department shall promulgate regulations governing the manner in which it shall consider petitions from the public to add debilitating medical conditions to those included in this chapter. In considering such petitions, the department shall include public notice of, and an opportunity to comment in a public hearing, upon such petitions. The department shall, after hearing, approve or deny such petitions within one hundred eighty (180) days of submission. The approval or denial of such a petition shall be considered a final department action, subject to judicial review. Jurisdiction and venue for judicial review are vested in the superior court. The denial of a petition shall not disqualify qualifying patients with that condition, if they have a debilitating medical condition as defined in subdivision 21-28.6-3(3). The denial of a petition shall not prevent a person with the denied condition from raising an affirmative defense.

   (b) Not later than ninety (90) days after the effective date of this chapter, the department shall promulgate regulations governing the manner in which it shall consider applications for and renewals of registry identification cards for qualifying patients and primary caregivers. The department's regulations shall establish application and renewal fees that generate revenues sufficient to offset all expenses of implementing and administering this chapter. The department may vary the application and renewal fees along a sliding scale that accounts for a qualifying patient's or caregiver's income. The department may accept donations from private sources in order to reduce the application and renewal fees.

SECTION 21-28.6-6

   § 21-28.6-6  Administration of regulations. – (a) The department shall issue registry identification cards to qualifying patients who submit the following, in accordance with the department's regulations:

   (1) Written certification as defined in § 21-28.6-3(14) of this chapter;

   (2) Application or renewal fee;

   (3) Name, address, and date of birth of the qualifying patient; provided, however, that if the patient is homeless, no address is required;

   (4) Name, address, and telephone number of the qualifying patient's practitioner; and

   (5) Name, address, and date of birth of each primary caregiver of the qualifying patient, if any.

   (b) The department shall not issue a registry identification card to a qualifying patient under the age of eighteen (18) unless:

   (1) The qualifying patient's practitioner has explained the potential risks and benefits of the medical use of marijuana to the qualifying patient and to a parent, guardian or person having legal custody of the qualifying patient; and

   (2) A parent, guardian or person having legal custody consents in writing to:

   (i) Allow the qualifying patient's medical use of marijuana;

   (ii) Serve as one of the qualifying patient's primary caregivers; and

   (iii) Control the acquisition of the marijuana, the dosage, and the frequency of the medical use of marijuana by the qualifying patient.

   (c) The department shall verify the information contained in an application or renewal submitted pursuant to this section, and shall approve or deny an application or renewal within fifteen (15) days of receiving it. The department may deny an application or renewal only if the applicant did not provide the information required pursuant to this section, or if the department determines that the information provided was falsified. Rejection of an application or renewal is considered a final department action, subject to judicial review. Jurisdiction and venue for judicial review are vested in the superior court.

   (d) The department shall issue a registry identification card to each primary caregiver, if any, who is named in a qualifying patient's approved application, up to a maximum of two (2) primary caregivers per qualifying patient. A person may not serve as a primary caregiver if he or she has a felony drug conviction, unless the department waives this restriction in respect to a specific individual at the department's discretion. Additionally, the department shall allow the person to serve as a primary caregiver if the department determines that the offense was for conduct that occurred prior to the enactment of the Edward O. Hawkins and Thomas C. Slater Medical Marijuana Act or that was prosecuted by an authority other than the state of Rhode Island and for which the Edward O. Hawkins and Thomas C. Slater Medical Marijuana Act would otherwise have prevented a conviction.

   (e) The department shall issue registry identification cards within five (5) days of approving an application or renewal, which shall expire two (2) years after the date of issuance. Registry identification cards shall contain:

   (1) The date of issuance and expiration date of the registry identification card;

   (2) A random registry identification number; and

   (3) A photograph; and

   (4) Any additional information as required by regulation or the department.

   (f) Persons issued registry identification cards shall be subject to the following:

   (1) A qualifying patient who has been issued a registry identification card shall notify the department of any change in the qualifying patient's name, address, or primary caregiver; or if the qualifying patient ceases to have his or her debilitating medical condition, within ten (10) days of such change.

   (2) A registered qualifying patient who fails to notify the department of any of these changes is responsible for a civil infraction, punishable by a fine of no more than one hundred fifty dollars ($150). If the person has ceased to suffer from a debilitating medical condition, the card shall be deemed null and void and the person shall be liable for any other penalties that may apply to the person's nonmedical use of marijuana.

   (3) A registered primary caregiver, principal officer, board member, employee, volunteer, or agent of a compassion center shall notify the department of any change in his or her name or address within ten (10) days of such change. A primary caregiver, principal officer, board member, employee, volunteer, or agent of a compassion center who fails to notify the department of any of these changes is responsible for a civil infraction, punishable by a fine of no more than one hundred fifty dollars ($150).

   (4) When a qualifying patient or primary caregiver notifies the department of any changes listed in this subsection, the department shall issue the registered qualifying patient and each primary caregiver a new registry identification card within ten (10) days of receiving the updated information and a ten dollar ($10.00) fee. When a principal officer, board member, employee, volunteer, or agent of a compassion center notifies the department of any changes listed in this subsection, the department shall issue the cardholder a new registry identification card within ten (10) days of receiving the updated information and a ten dollar ($10.00) fee.

   (5) When a qualifying patient who possesses a registry identification card changes his or her primary caregiver, the department shall notify the primary caregiver within ten (10) days. The primary caregiver's protections as provided in this chapter as to that patient shall expire ten (10) days after notification by the department.

   (6) If a cardholder loses his or her registry identification card, he or she shall notify the department and submit a ten dollar ($10.00) fee within ten (10) days of losing the card. Within five (5) days, the department shall issue a new registry identification card with new random identification number.

   (7) If a cardholder willfully violates any provision of this chapter as determined by the department, his or her registry identification card may be revoked.

   (g) Possession of, or application for, a registry identification card shall not constitute probable cause or reasonable suspicion, nor shall it be used to support the search of the person or property of the person possessing or applying for the registry identification card, or otherwise subject the person or property of the person to inspection by any governmental agency.

   (h) Applications and supporting information submitted by qualifying patients, including information regarding their primary caregivers and practitioners, are confidential and protected under the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, and shall be exempt from the provisions of the RIGL chapter 38-2 et seq. the Rhode Island access to public records act and not subject to disclosure, except to authorized employees of the department as necessary to perform official duties of the department.

   (2) The application for qualifying patient's registry identification card shall include a question asking whether the patient would like the department to notify him or her of any clinical studies about marijuana's risk or efficacy. The department shall inform those patients who answer in the affirmative of any such studies it is notified of, that will be conducted in Rhode Island. The department may also notify those patients of medical studies conducted outside of Rhode Island.

   (3) The department shall maintain a confidential list of the persons to whom the department has issued registry identification cards. Individual names and other identifying information on the list shall be confidential, exempt from the provisions of Rhode Island Access to Public Information, chapter 2 of title 38, and not subject to disclosure, except to authorized employees of the department as necessary to perform official duties of the department.

   (i) The department shall verify to law enforcement personnel whether a registry identification card is valid solely by confirming the random registry identification number.

   (j) It shall be a crime, punishable by up to one hundred eighty (180) days in jail and a one thousand dollar ($1,000) fine, for any person, including an employee or official of the department or another state agency or local government, to breach the confidentiality of information obtained pursuant to this chapter. Notwithstanding this provision, the department employees may notify law enforcement about falsified or fraudulent information submitted to the department.

   (k) On or before January 1 of each odd numbered year, the department shall report to the House Committee on Health, Education and Welfare and to the Senate Committee on Health and Human Services on the use of marijuana for symptom relief. The report shall provide:

   (1) The number of applications for registry identification cards, the number of qualifying patients and primary caregivers approved, the nature of the debilitating medical conditions of the qualifying patients, the number of registry identification cards revoked, and the number of practitioners providing written certification for qualifying patients;

   (2) An evaluation of the costs permitting the use of marijuana for symptom relief, including any costs to law enforcement agencies and costs of any litigation;

   (3) Statistics regarding the number of marijuana-related prosecutions against registered patients and caregivers, and an analysis of the facts underlying those prosecutions;

   (4) Statistics regarding the number of prosecutions against physicians for violations of this chapter; and

   (5) Whether the United States Food and Drug Administration has altered its position regarding the use of marijuana for medical purposes or has approved alternative delivery systems for marijuana.

SECTION 21-28.6-7

   § 21-28.6-7  Scope of chapter. – (a) This chapter shall not permit:

   (1) Any person to undertake any task under the influence of marijuana, when doing so would constitute negligence or professional malpractice;

   (2) The smoking of marijuana:

   (i) In a school bus or other form of public transportation;

   (ii) On any school grounds;

   (iii) In any correctional facility;

   (iv) In any public place;

   (v) In any licensed drug treatment facility in this state; or

   (vi) Where exposure to the marijuana smoke significantly adversely affects the health, safety, or welfare of children.

   (3) Any person to operate, navigate, or be in actual physical control of any motor vehicle, aircraft, or motorboat while under the influence of marijuana. However, a registered qualifying patient shall not be considered to be under the influence solely for having marijuana metabolites in his or her system.

   (b) Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to require:

   (1) A government medical assistance program or private health insurer to reimburse a person for costs associated with the medical use of marijuana; or

   (2) An employer to accommodate the medical use of marijuana in any workplace.

   (c) Fraudulent representation to a law enforcement official of any fact or circumstance relating to the medical use of marijuana to avoid arrest or prosecution shall be punishable by a fine of five hundred dollars ($500) which shall be in addition to any other penalties that may apply for making a false statement for the nonmedical use of marijuana.

SECTION 21-28.6-8

   § 21-28.6-8  Affirmative defense and dismissal. – (a) Except as provided in § 21-28.6-7, a person and a person's primary caregiver, if any, may assert the medical purpose for using marijuana as a defense to any prosecution involving marijuana, and such defense shall be presumed valid where the evidence shows that:

   (1) The qualifying patient's practitioner has stated that, in the practitioner's professional opinion, after having completed a full assessment of the person's medical history and current medical condition made in the course of a bona fide practitioner-patient relationship, the potential benefits of using marijuana for medical purposes would likely outweigh the health risks for the qualifying patient; and

   (2) The person and the person's primary caregiver, if any, were collectively in possession of a quantity of marijuana that was not more than what is permitted under this chapter to ensure the uninterrupted availability of marijuana for the purpose of alleviating the person's medical condition or symptoms associated with the medical condition.

   (b) A person may assert the medical purpose for using marijuana in a motion to dismiss, and the charges shall be dismissed following an evidentiary hearing where the defendant shows the elements listed in subsection (a) of this section.

   (c) Any interest in or right to property that was possessed, owned, or used in connection with a person's use of marijuana for medical purposes shall not be forfeited if the person or the person's primary caregiver demonstrates the person's medical purpose for using marijuana pursuant to this section.

SECTION 21-28.6-9

   § 21-28.6-9  Enforcement. – (a) If the department fails to adopt regulations to implement this chapter within one hundred twenty (120) days of the effective date of this act, a qualifying patient may commence an action in a court of competent jurisdiction to compel the department to perform the actions mandated pursuant to the provisions of this chapter.

   (b) If the department fails to issue a valid registry identification card in response to a valid application submitted pursuant to this chapter within thirty-five (35) days of its submission, the registry identification card shall be deemed granted and a copy of the registry identification application shall be deemed valid registry identification card.

SECTION 21-28.6-10

   § 21-28.6-10  Severability. – If any provision of this chapter or its application thereof to any person or circumstance is held invalid, such invalidity shall not affect other provisions or applications of this chapter, which can be given effect without the invalid provision or application, and to this end the provisions of this chapter are declared to be severable.

SECTION 21-28.6-11

   § 21-28.6-11  Repealed. –

SECTION 21-28.6-12

   § 21-28.6-12  Compassion centers. – (a) A compassion center registered under this section may acquire, possess, cultivate, manufacture, deliver, transfer, transport, supply, or dispense marijuana, or related supplies and educational materials, to registered qualifying patients and their registered primary caregivers who have designated it as one of their primary caregivers. A compassion center is a primary caregiver. Except as specifically provided to the contrary, all provisions of the Edward O. Hawkins and Thomas C. Slater Medical Marijuana Act, §§ 21-28.6-1 – 21-28.6-11, apply to a compassion center unless they conflict with a provision contained in § 21-28.6-12.

   (b) Registration of compassion centers–department authority:

   (1) Not later than ninety (90) days after the effective date of this chapter, the department shall promulgate regulations governing the manner in which it shall consider applications for registration certificates for compassion centers, including regulations governing:

   (i) The form and content of registration and renewal applications;

   (ii) Minimum oversight requirements for compassion centers;

   (iii) Minimum record-keeping requirements for compassion centers;

   (iv) Minimum security requirements for compassion centers; and

   (v) Procedures for suspending, revoking or terminating the registration of compassion centers that violate the provisions of this section or the regulations promulgated pursuant to this subsection.

   (2) Within ninety (90) days of the effective date of this chapter, the department shall begin accepting applications for the operation of a single compassion center.

   (3) Within one hundred fifty (150) days of the effective date of this chapter, the department shall provide for at least one public hearing on the granting of an application to a single compassion center.

   (4) Within one hundred ninety (190) days of the effective date of this chapter, the department shall grant a single registration certificate to a single compassion center, providing at least one applicant has applied who meets the requirements of this chapter.

   (5) If at any time after fifteen (15) months after the effective date of this chapter, there is no operational compassion center in Rhode Island, the department shall accept applications, provide for input from the public, and issue a registration certificate for a compassion center if a qualified applicant exists.

   (6) Within two (2) years of the effective date of this chapter, the department shall begin accepting applications to provide registration certificates for two (2) additional compassion centers. The department shall solicit input from the public, and issue registration certificates if qualified applicants exist.

   (7) Any time a compassion center registration certificate is revoked, is relinquished, or expires, the department shall accept applications for a new compassion center.

   (8) If at any time after three (3) years after the effective date of this chapter, fewer than three (3) compassion centers are holding valid registration certificates in Rhode Island, the department shall accept applications for a new compassion center. No more than three (3) compassion centers may hold valid registration certificates at one time.

   (9) Any compassion center application selected for approval by the department prior to January 1, 2012, shall remain in full force and effect, notwithstanding any provisions of this chapter to the contrary, and shall be subject to state law adopted herein and rules and regulations adopted by the department subsequent to passage of this legislation.

   (c) Compassion center and agent applications and registration:

   (1) Each application for a compassion center shall include:

   (i) A non-refundable application fee paid to the department in the amount of two hundred fifty dollars ($250);

   (ii) The proposed legal name and proposed articles of incorporation of the compassion center;

   (iii) The proposed physical address of the compassion center, if a precise address has been determined, or, if not, the general location where it would be located. This may include a second location for the cultivation of medical marijuana;

   (iv) A description of the enclosed, locked facility that would be used in the cultivation of marijuana;

   (v) The name, address, and date of birth of each principal officer and board member of the compassion center;

   (vi) Proposed security and safety measures which shall include at least one security alarm system for each location, planned measures to deter and prevent the unauthorized entrance into areas containing marijuana and the theft of marijuana, as well as a draft employee instruction manual including security policies, safety and security procedures, personal safety and crime prevention techniques; and

   (vii) Proposed procedures to ensure accurate record keeping;

   (2) Any time one or more compassion center registration applications are being considered, the department shall also allow for comment by the public and shall solicit input from registered qualifying patients, registered primary caregivers; and the towns or cities where the applicants would be located;

   (3) Each time a compassion center certificate is granted, the decision shall be based upon the overall health needs of qualified patients and the safety of the public, including, but not limited to, the following factors:

   (i) Convenience to patients from throughout the state of Rhode Island to the compassion centers if the applicant were approved;

   (ii) The applicants' ability to provide a steady supply to the registered qualifying patients in the state;

   (iii) The applicants' experience running a non-profit or business;

   (iv) The interests of qualifying patients regarding which applicant be granted a registration certificate;

   (v) The interests of the city or town where the dispensary would be located;

   (vi) The sufficiency of the applicant's plans for record keeping and security, which records shall be considered confidential health care information under Rhode Island law and are intended to be deemed protected health care information for purposes of the Federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, as amended; and

   (vii) The sufficiency of the applicant's plans for safety and security, including proposed location, security devices employed, and staffing;

   (4) After a compassion center is approved, but before it begins operations, it shall submit the following to the department:

   (i) A fee paid to the department in the amount of five thousand dollars ($5,000);

   (ii) The legal name and articles of incorporation of the compassion center;

   (iii) The physical address of the compassion center; this may include a second address for the secure cultivation of marijuana;

   (iv) The name, address, and date of birth of each principal officer and board member of the compassion center;

   (v) The name, address, and date of birth of any person who will be an agent of, employee or volunteer of the compassion center at its inception;

   (5) The department shall track the number of registered qualifying patients who designate each compassion center as a primary caregiver, and issue a written statement to the compassion center of the number of qualifying patients who have designated the compassion center to serve as a primary caregiver for them. This statement shall be updated each time a new registered qualifying patient designates the compassion center or ceases to designate the compassion center and may be transmitted electronically if the department's regulations so provide. The department may provide by regulation that the updated written statements will not be issued more frequently than twice each week;

   (6) Except as provided in subdivision (7), the department shall issue each principal officer, board member, agent, volunteer and employee of a compassion center a registry identification card or renewal card within ten (10) days of receipt of the person's name, address, date of birth; a fee in an amount established by the department; and notification to the department by the state police that the registry identification card applicant has not been convicted of a felony drug offense or has not entered a plea of nolo contendere for a felony drug offense and received a sentence of probation. Each card shall specify that the cardholder is a principal officer, board member, agent, volunteer, or employee of a compassion center and shall contain the following:

   (i) The name, address, and date of birth of the principal officer, board member, agent, volunteer or employee;

   (ii) The legal name of the compassion center to which the principal officer, board member, agent, volunteer or employee is affiliated;

   (iii) A random identification number that is unique to the cardholder;

   (iv) The date of issuance and expiration date of the registry identification card; and

   (v) A photograph, if the department decides to require one;

   (7) Except as provided in this subsection, the department shall not issue a registry identification card to any principal officer, board member, agent, volunteer, or employee of a compassion center who has been convicted of a felony drug offense or has entered a plea of nolo contendere for a felony drug offense and received a sentence of probation. The department shall notify the compassion center in writing of the purpose for denying the registry identification card. The department may grant such person a registry identification card if the department determines that the offense was for conduct that occurred prior to the enactment of the Edward O. Hawkins and Thomas C. Slater Medical Marijuana Act or that was prosecuted by an authority other than the state of Rhode Island and for which the Edward O. Hawkins and Thomas C. Slater Medical Marijuana Act would otherwise have prevented a conviction;

   (i) All registry identification card applicants shall apply to the state police for a national criminal identification records check that shall include fingerprints submitted to the federal bureau of investigation. Upon the discovery of a felony drug offense conviction or a plea of nolo contendere for a felony drug offense with a sentence of probation, and in accordance with the rules promulgated by the director, the state police shall inform the applicant, in writing, of the nature of the felony and the state police shall notify the department, in writing, without disclosing the nature of the felony, that a felony drug offense conviction or a plea of nolo contendere for a felony drug offense with probation has been found.

   (ii) In those situations in which no felony drug offense conviction or plea of nolo contendere for a felony drug offense with probation has been found, the state police shall inform the applicant and the department, in writing, of this fact.

   (iii) All registry identification card applicants shall be responsible for any expense associated with the criminal background check with fingerprints.

   (8) A registry identification card of a principal officer, board member, agent, volunteer, or employee shall expire one year after its issuance, or upon the expiration of the registered organization's registration certificate, or upon the termination of the principal officer, board member, agent, volunteer or employee's relationship with the compassion center, whichever occurs first.

   (d) Expiration or termination of compassion center:

   (1) A compassion center's registration shall expire two (2) years after its registration certificate is issued. The compassion center may submit a renewal application beginning sixty (60) days prior to the expiration of its registration certificate;

   (2) The department shall grant a compassion center's renewal application within thirty (30) days of its submission if the following conditions are all satisfied:

   (i) The compassion center submits the materials required under subdivision (c)(4), including a five thousand dollar ($5,000) fee;

   (ii) The compassion center's registration has never been suspended for violations of this chapter or regulations issued pursuant to this chapter;

   (iii) The legislative oversight committee's report, if issued pursuant to subsection (4)(j), indicates that the compassion center is adequately providing patients with access to medical marijuana at reasonable rates; and

   (iv) The legislative oversight committee's report, if issued pursuant to subsection (4)(j), does not raise serious concerns about the continued operation of the compassion center applying for renewal.

   (3) If the department determines that any of the conditions listed in paragraphs (d)(2)(i) – (iv) have not been met, the department shall begin an open application process for the operation of a compassion center. In granting a new registration certificate, the department shall consider factors listed in subdivision (c)(3) of this section;

   (4) The department shall issue a compassion center one or more thirty (30) day temporary registration certificates after that compassion center's registration would otherwise expire if the following conditions are all satisfied:

   (i) The compassion center previously applied for a renewal, but the department had not yet come to a decision;

   (ii) The compassion center requested a temporary registration certificate; and

   (iii) The compassion center has not had its registration certificate revoked due to violations of this chapter or regulations issued pursuant to this chapter.

   (5) A compassion center's registry identification card shall be subject to revocation if the compassion center:

   (i) Possesses an amount of marijuana exceeding the limits established by this chapter;

   (ii) Is in violation of the laws of this state;

   (iii) Is in violation of other departmental regulations; or

   (iv) Employs or enters into a business relationship with a medical practitioner who provides written certification of a qualifying patient's medical condition.

   (e) Inspection. Compassion centers are subject to reasonable inspection by the department of health, division of facilities regulation. During an inspection, the department may review the compassion center's confidential records, including its dispensing records, which shall track transactions according to qualifying patients' registry identification numbers to protect their confidentiality.

   (f) Compassion center requirements:

   (1) A compassion center shall be operated on a not-for-profit basis for the mutual benefit of its patients. A compassion center need not be recognized as a tax-exempt organization by the Internal Revenue Services;

   (2) A compassion center may not be located within one thousand feet (1000') of the property line of a preexisting public or private school;

   (3) A compassion center shall notify the department within ten (10) days of when a principal officer, board member, agent, volunteer or employee ceases to work at the compassion center. His or her card shall be deemed null and void and the person shall be liable for any penalties that may apply to any nonmedical possession or use of marijuana by the person;

   (4) A compassion center shall notify the department in writing of the name, address, and date of birth of any new principal officer, board member, agent, volunteer or employee and shall submit a fee in an amount established by the department for a new registry identification card before that person begins his or her relationship with the compassion center;

   (5) A compassion center shall implement appropriate security measures to deter and prevent the unauthorized entrance into areas containing marijuana and the theft of marijuana and shall insure that each location has an operational security alarm system. Each compassion center shall request that the Rhode Island state police visit the compassion center to inspect the security of the facility and make any recommendations regarding the security of the facility and its personnel within ten (10) days prior to the initial opening of each compassion center. Said recommendations shall not be binding upon any compassion center, nor shall the lack of implementation of said recommendations delay or prevent the opening or operation of any center. If the Rhode Island state police do not inspect the compassion center within the ten (10) day period there shall be no delay in the compassion center's opening.

   (6) The operating documents of a compassion center shall include procedures for the oversight of the compassion center and procedures to ensure accurate record keeping;

   (7) A compassion center is prohibited from acquiring, possessing, cultivating, manufacturing, delivering, transferring, transporting, supplying, or dispensing marijuana for any purpose except to assist registered qualifying patients with the medical use of marijuana directly or through the qualifying patient's other primary caregiver;

   (8) All principal officers and board members of a compassion center must be residents of the state of Rhode Island;

   (9) Each time a new registered qualifying patient visits a compassion center, it shall provide the patient with frequently asked questions sheet designed by the department, which explains the limitations on the right to use medical marijuana under state law;

   (10) Each compassion center shall develop, implement, and maintain on the premises employee, volunteer and agent policies and procedures to address the following requirements:

   (i) A job description or employment contract developed for all employees and agents and a volunteer agreement for all volunteers, which includes duties, authority, responsibilities, qualifications, and supervision; and

   (ii) Training in and adherence to state confidentiality laws.

   (11) Each compassion center shall maintain a personnel record for each employee, agent and volunteer that includes an application and a record of any disciplinary action taken;

   (12) Each compassion center shall develop, implement, and maintain on the premises an on-site training curriculum, or enter into contractual relationships with outside resources capable of meeting employee training needs, which includes, but is not limited to, the following topics:

   (i) Professional conduct, ethics, and patient confidentiality; and

   (ii) Informational developments in the field of medical use of marijuana.

   (13) Each compassion center entity shall provide each employee, agent and volunteer, at the time of his or her initial appointment, training in the following:

   (i) The proper use of security measures and controls that have been adopted; and

   (ii) Specific procedural instructions on how to respond to an emergency, including robbery or violent accident;

   (14) All compassion centers shall prepare training documentation for each employee and volunteer and have employees and volunteers sign a statement indicating the date, time, and place the employee and volunteer received said training and topics discussed, to include name and title of presenters. The compassion center shall maintain documentation of an employee's and a volunteer's training for a period of at least six (6) months after termination of an employee's employment or the volunteer's volunteering.

   (g) Maximum amount of usable marijuana to be dispensed:

   (1) A compassion center or principal officer, board member, agent, volunteer or employee of a compassion center may not dispense more than two and one half ounces (2.5 oz) of usable marijuana to a qualifying patient directly or through a qualifying patient's other primary caregiver during a fifteen (15) day period;

   (2) A compassion center or principal officer, board member, agent, volunteer or employee of a compassion center may not dispense an amount of usable marijuana or marijuana plants to a qualifying patient or a qualifying patient's other primary caregiver that the compassion center, principal officer, board member, agent, volunteer, or employee knows would cause the recipient to possess more marijuana than is permitted under the Edward O. Hawkins and Thomas C. Slater Medical Marijuana Act.

   (h) Immunity:

   (1) No registered compassion center shall be subject to prosecution; search, except by the department pursuant to subsection (e); seizure; or penalty in any manner or denied any right or privilege, including, but not limited to, civil penalty or disciplinary action by a business, occupational, or professional licensing board or entity, solely for acting in accordance with this section to assist registered qualifying patients to whom it is connected through the department's registration process with the medical use of marijuana;

   (2) No registered compassion center shall be subject to prosecution; seizure or penalty in any manner or denied any right or privilege, including, but not limited to, civil penalty or disciplinary action by a business, occupational, or professional licensing board or entity, for selling, giving or distributing marijuana in whatever form and within the limits established by the department to another registered compassion center;

   (3) No principal officers, board members, agents, volunteers, or employees of a registered compassion center shall be subject to arrest, prosecution, search, seizure, or penalty in any manner or denied any right or privilege, including, but not limited to, civil penalty or disciplinary action by a business, occupational, or professional licensing board or entity, solely for working for or with a compassion center to engage in acts permitted by this section.

   (4) No state employee shall be subject to arrest, prosecution or penalty in any manner, or denied any right or privilege, including, but not limited to, civil penalty, disciplinary action, termination, or loss of employee or pension benefits, for any and all conduct that occurs within the scope of his or her employment regarding the administration, execution and/or enforcement of this act, and the provisions of Rhode Island general laws, §§ 9-31-8 and 9-31-9 shall be applicable to this section.

   (i) Prohibitions:

   (1) A compassion center shall not possess an amount of marijuana at any given time that exceeds the following limitations:

   (i) One hundred fifty (150) marijuana plants of which no more than ninety-nine (99) shall be mature; and

   (ii) One thousand five hundred ounces (1500 oz.) of usable marijuana.

   (2) A compassion center may not dispense, deliver, or otherwise transfer marijuana to a person other than a qualifying patient who has designated the compassion center as a primary caregiver or to such patient's other primary caregiver;

   (3) A person found to have violated paragraph (2) of this subsection may not be an employee, agent, volunteer, principal officer, or board member of any compassion center;

   (4) An employee, agent, volunteer, principal officer or board member of any compassion center found in violation of paragraph (2) above shall have his or her registry identification revoked immediately; and

   (5) No person who has been convicted of a felony drug offense or has entered a plea of nolo contendere for a felony drug offense with a sentence or probation may be the principal officer, board member, agent, volunteer, or employee of a compassion center unless the department has determined that the person's conviction was for the medical use of marijuana or assisting with the medical use of marijuana in accordance with the terms and conditions of this chapter. A person who is employed by or is an agent, volunteer, principal officer, or board member of a compassion center in violation of this section is guilty of a civil violation punishable by a fine of up to one thousand dollars ($1,000). A subsequent violation of this section is a misdemeanor:

   (j) Legislative oversight committee:

   (1) The general assembly shall appoint a nine (9) member oversight committee comprised of: one member of the house of representatives; one member of the senate; one physician to be selected from a list provided by the Rhode Island medical society; one nurse to be selected from a list provided by the Rhode Island state nurses association; two (2) registered qualifying patients; one registered primary caregiver; one patient advocate to be selected from a list provided by the Rhode Island patient advocacy coalition; and the superintendent of the Rhode Island state police or his/her designee.

   (2) The oversight committee shall meet at least six (6) times per year for the purpose of evaluating and making recommendations to the general assembly regarding:

   (i) Patients' access to medical marijuana;

   (ii) Efficacy of compassion center;

   (iii) Physician participation in the Medical Marijuana Program;

   (iv) The definition of qualifying medical condition;

   (v) Research studies regarding health effects of medical marijuana for patients.

   (3) On or before January 1 of every even numbered year, the oversight committee shall report to the general assembly on its findings.

SECTION 21-28.6-13

   § 21-28.6-13  Construction. – This chapter shall be liberally construed so as to effectuate the purposes thereof.