Vermont Expands State Medi-Pot Law — Legislatures In Connecticut, Rhode Island Also Endorse Medical Cannabis

Montpelier, VT: Legislation to amend Vermont’s nearly three-year-old medical cannabis program became law last week after Democratic Gov. James Douglas allowed the measure to become law without his signature. It is the second time since 2004 that state lawmakers have approved medical cannabis legislation without the Governor’s backing.

Under the amended law, which takes effect in July, patients with chronic debilitating conditions – not just life-threatening diseases – may use cannabis legally under the advice of their physician.† Senate Bill 7 also increases the number of plants that patients may legally cultivate under state law, and reduces the annual fee associated with the state’s medical cannabis patient registry.

Vermont’s medical marijuana program is generally considered to be the most restrictive in the nation. To date, fewer than 30 patients are registered with the state to use cannabis legally under state law.

Dozens of additional patients are expected to register with the program once SB 7 takes effect this summer.

Legislators in Connecticut also approved legislation last week that seeks to enact statewide legal protections for patients who use cannabis under a doctor’s supervision. House Bill 6715 now awaits action from Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell. If enacted, Connecticut will become the thirteenth state since 1996 to legalize the use of medical cannabis, and it will be the second state legislature to do so this year.

In Rhode Island, Republican Gov. Donald Carcieri vetoed legislation this week that seeks to make the state’s one-year-old medical marijuana law permanent. More than 80 percent of state lawmakers had previously affirmed the measure. Under state law, support of three-fifths of the state’s elected officials is necessary to override the Governor’s veto.

Unless amended by the legislature, Rhode Island’s medical marijuana law will expire at the end of the month. Currently, nearly 300 patients and caregivers are registered to possess cannabis under the law.

Leadership in both the House and Senate chambers said that they expect to consider overriding the Governor’s veto before the adjournment of the 2007 session.

For more information, please contact Paul Armentano, NORML Senior Policy Analyst, at: To learn more about pending state legislation, please visit NORML’s Take Action Center at: