Rhode Island Legal Information
In 2006, the Edward O. Hawkins and Thomas C. Slater Medical Marijuana Act was enacted, allowing patients with a Rhode Island registry ID card to use, possess, and cultivate cannabis. Registered patients may possess up to 2.5 ounces of usable cannabis and may cultivate up to 12 plants. Patients may currently appoint up to two primary caregivers for assistance or designate a compassion center as one of the caregivers. Qualified patients and caregivers are entitled to an affirmative defense at trial or dismissal of charges.
In 2009, the Department of Health (DOH) was authorized to license not-for-profit compassion centers to distribute medical cannabis. In 2011, Gov. Lincoln Chafee suspended licensing of compassion centers in response to threats from federal prosecutors; he then resumed the program 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 legislature passed laws removing caps on cultivation for compassion centers. Patients and caregivers may also sell excess medical cannabis to compassion centers.
In 2016, the DOH made several positive changes to the program including creating a new cultivator license to help deal with product shortages. The legislature passed H 7142 which adds PTSD as a qualifying condition.
In This Section
The Edward O. Hawkins and Thomas C. Slater Medical Marijuana Act was passed by the state legislature and signed into law on January 3, 2006 and went into effect immediately. The bill’s sunset clause was removed on renewal of the law in 2007. Not-for-profit compassion centers for the distribution of medical cannabis were authorized by law in 2009. Licensing of the centers is done by the Rhode Island Department of Health. Gov. Lincoln Chafee suspended licensing of compassion centers in October 2011 in response to threats from federal prosecutors, then resumed the program in January 2012 after background checks and additional plant limits were added to the licensing requirements.
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.
Medical professionals recommending medical cannabis must be a licensed physician in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, or Connecticut, have a practitioner-patient relationship with the qualifying patient and complete a full assessment of the patient's medical history.
Unfortunately, patients, caregivers, and providers are still vulnerable to federal and state arrests, prosecutions, and incarceration. They also suffer pervasive discrimination in employment, child custody, housing, public accommodation, education and medical care.