Updated on June 5, 2020. Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer
Patients in Rhode Island diagnosed with one of the following severe, debilitating, or life-threatening medical conditions, are afforded legal protection under Rhode Island’s medical marijuana law, as per Senate Bill 0710 — “Edward O. Hawkins and Thomas C. Slater Medical Marijuana Act”:
The state’s Medical Marijuana Act permits Rhode Island residents with debilitating medical conditions to use marijuana if a physician certifies in writing that the marijuana may alleviate their symptoms and that the potential benefits of using medical marijuana would likely outweigh the health risks to the patient. This means that patients, caregivers, and authorized purchasers who are registered with the Department of Health’s Medical Marijuana Program may possess a limited amount of marijuana without violating state law.
Registered patients may designate one caregiver and one authorized purchaser. Individual caregivers may be responsible for up to five patients. Authorized purchasers can only be associated with one patient. There is no limit to the number of patients a compassion center may serve.
While Senate Bill 0710 was initially approved in June 2005, it spent a number of years being suspended as it was vetoed and then over-ridden. Finally, in January 03, 2006, the House ultimately overrode the veto, passing the “Edward O. Hawkins and Thomas C. Slater Medical Marijuana Act”, effectively removing all state-level criminal penalties on the use and possession of marijuana by patients in possession of a written letter from a physician stating that he or she may benefit from the medical use of marijuana for alleviating symptoms caused by debilitating medical conditions and their medical treatments.
Some medical marijuana patients will claim they have a doctor’s prescription for medical marijuana, but marijuana prescriptions are in fact illegal. The federal government classifies marijuana as a schedule I drug. Therefore, doctors are unable to prescribe marijuana to their patients, and medical marijuana patients cannot go to a pharmacy to fill a prescription for medical marijuana. Instead, medical marijuana physicians will supply patients with a medical marijuana recommendation in compliance with state law.
Rhode Island medical marijuana law allows qualified and registered patients or appointed primary caregivers, to cultivate and possess no more than twelve cannabis plants, and five ounces of usable medical marijuana.