Rhode Island Governor Vetoes Medical Marijuana Legislation

Providence, RI: Rhode Island Governor Don Carcieri (R) vetoed legislation this week that would have exempted qualified patients from state criminal penalties for the possession and use of medical cannabis. The General Assembly had previously approved the bill, known as the Edward O. Hawkins and Thomas C. Slater Medical Marijuana Act, by votes of 52-10 in the House and 34-2 in the Senate.

Carcieri issued his veto a day after meeting with representatives from the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), who encouraged the Governor to oppose the bill.

The bill’s sponsors are expected to schedule an override of the Governor’s veto. An override would require votes from three-fifths of the lawmakers in each chamber.

If approved, the Edward O. Hawkins and Thomas C. Slater Medical Marijuana Act would allow state-authorized patients with a doctor’s permission to legally possess up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis and/or 12 plants under state law. Patients and their caregivers are to register with the state Department of Health and their cannabis must be stored in an indoor facility. Patients who are legally authorized to use medical cannabis in other states will also receive statewide protection in Rhode Island under the Act.

Ten statesAlaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington – have enacted laws legalizing the physician-authorized use of medicinal cannabis. Maryland enacted legislation in 2003 requiring a patient’s use of medical marijuana to be considered as a mitigating factor in a marijuana-related state prosecution.

For more information, please contact either Allen St. Pierre or Paul Armentano at (202) 483-5500. Additional information on Rhode Island’s Medical Marijuana Act is available at: