Becoming a Patient in Rhode Island
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.
A patient or the primary caregiver for the qualifying patient may have up to twelve mature plants and two and one-half (2.5) ounces of usable marijuana. Plants must be stored in an indoor facility. Primary caregivers and patients are allowed to possess a “reasonable amount” of unusable marijuana, including up to twelve seedlings, which is not counted towards the above limits.
Primary caregivers cannot possess more than twenty-four mature plants and five (5) ounces of usable marijuana for the qualifying patients he/she is assisting. This restriction does not apply to compassion centers.
A compassion center cannot possess an amount of marijuana that exceeds the total allowable amount of marijuana for the patients for whom the compassion center is the primary caregiver.
- 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
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 The Rhode Island Department of Health's Medical Marijuana Program page. A written doctor's recommendation must be included with the application.
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.
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 (either for an offence that occurred prior to enactment of the medical marijuana provisions or due to prosecution by an authority other than the State of Rhode Island).
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.
A compassion center may act as a primary caregiver for qualified patients. The compassion center must be registered with the Department of Health, and is allowed to acquire, possess, cultivate, manufacture, deliver, transfer, transport, supply, or dispense marijuana, or related supplies and educational materials, to qualifying patients and their primary caregivers who have designated it as one of their primary caregivers.
Compassion centers must be non-profit operations with all principal officers and board members as residents of Rhode Island. None of the principal officers and board members are allowed to have a felony drug conviction. Compassion centers must be more than 500 ft. away from the property line of a preexisting public or private school.
The following acts are restricted:
- Performing any task under the influence of marijuana, where doing so would be considered negligence or professional malpractice;
- Consuming or smoking marijuana:
- In a school bus or other form of public transportation
- On any school grounds
- In any correctional facility
- In any public place
- In any licensed drug treatment facility in Rhode Island
- Where exposure to the marijuana smoke would affect children
- Operating or controlling any motor vehicle, aircraft or motorboat while under the influence of marijuana.
Limitations and Protections under the Law
Qualifying patients or primary caregivers that possess a registry identification card is protected from arrest, prosecution, or other penalty for the medical use of marijuana, as long as the cardholder does not possess more than the amount limited by law. Cardholders convicted of a drug felony will have their medical marijuana identification card revoked and be permanently prohibited from receiving another.
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:
- allow the patient's medical use of marijuana;
- serve as one of the patient's primary caregivers; and
- control the acquisition of, dosage and the frequency of the patient's use of marijuana.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.