- About About
Medical Patient Resources Becoming a State-Authorized Patient Talking to your doctor Which conditions qualify? The Medical Cannabis Patient’s Guide for U.S. Travel Patient's Guide to CBD Patient's Guide to Medical Cannabis Guide to Using Medical Cannabis Condition-based Booklets Growing Cannabis Cannabis Tincture, Salve, Butter and Oil Recipes Leaf411 Affordability Program Tracking Treatment & Gathering Data with Releaf App Medical Professional Resources CME for Medical Professionals Cannabis Safety Medical Cannabis Research
- Legal Legal
Advocacy ASA Chapters Start an ASA Chapter Take Action Campaigns No Patient Left Behind End Pain, Not Lives Vote Medical Marijuana Medical Cannabis Advocate's Training Center Resources for Tabling and Lobby Days Strategic Planning Civics 101 Strategic Messaging Citizen Lobbying Participating in Implementation Movement Building Organizing a Demonstration Organizing Turnout for Civic Meetings Public Speaking Media 101 Patient's History of Medical Cannabis
- News News
Policy Model Federal Legislation Download Ending The Federal Conflict Public Comments by ASA Industry Standards Guide to Regulating Industry Standards Reports 2020 State of the States Medical Cannabis Access for Pain Treatment Medical Cannabis in America Recognizing Science using the Data Quality Act Fact Sheet on ASA's Data Quality Act Petition to HHS Data Quality Act Briefs ASA Data Quality Act petition to HHS Information on Lawyers and Named Patients in the Data Quality Act Lawsuit
- Join Join
History of Medical Cannabis in Rhode Island
In 2006, Rhode Island enacted the Edward O. Hawkins and Thomas C. Slater Medical Marijuana Act, allowing in-state patients with a Rhode Island registry ID card to use, possess and cultivate cannabis. Under the law registered patients may possess up to 2.5 ounces of usable cannabis and may cultivate up to 12 plants. Patients may appoint up to two primary caregivers for assistance or designate a compassion center as one of the caregivers, and qualified patients and caregivers are entitled to an affirmative defense at trial or dismissal of charges. Authorized patient eligibility is determined by physician certification that the patient suffers from one or more of eight qualified conditions provided for by the state, and language in the law provides access for patients with chronic pain.
Legal patient access became a little more realistic in 2009 when the Rhode Island Department of Health was authorized to license not-for-profit compassion centers to retail medical cannabis. However the state failed to provide licensed medical retail access for nearly seven years from the date it enacted authorizing legislation. In 2011, Governor Chafee suspended licensing of compassion centers in response to threats from federal prosecutors, though licensing resumed in January 2012 after background checks and additional plant limits were added to the licensing requirements. By 2013 compassion centers were serving patients.
In 2014, the General Assembly approved legislation removing caps on cultivation for compassion centers, and allowing patients and caregivers to sell excess medical cannabis to compassion centers. Product shortage issues were addressed again in 2016 when the state created a new cultivation licensing category, the same year the state added PTSD as a qualifying condition to its list of eligible conditions. Rhode Island also deserves credit for protecting patient employee rights through the courts in Callaghan v. Darlington Fabrics Co. et. al., (R.I. Super. Ct. 2017).
In 2016, Rhode Island approved a number of changes to its medical access program, which include requirements for patients to affix a tracking tag to each medical cannabis plant grown and pay $25/tag unless financial hardship can be demonstrated. The location of registered patient and caregiver cultivation sites must also be disclosed. Additional reforms were organized for dispensing facilities, including more stringent product testing and safety standards, inventory tracking and the removal of a requirement that patients designate a single dispensary as their source of cannabis medicine. Cultivators were finally provided a separate licensing category as well, offering patients improved product volume to mitigate shortages and potentially driving down the high cost of medical cannabis. Finally, the changes sunsetted in 2019 a patient and caregiver's authority to cultivate cannabis collectively, requiring patients to either choose to grow their own medical cannabis or defer the responsibility to a designated caregiver.
In 2018, Rhode Island approved several program improvements, including reciprocity access for out-of-state patients, criminal records expungement legislation, and adding autism spectrum disorder as a qualifying condition.