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Senate Overrides Medical Marijuana Veto


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PROVIDENCE - With the 29-4 vote in the Senate Tuesday to override Gov. Donald Carcieri's veto, there is just one more hurdle to clear before Rhode Island's medical marijuana law is made permanent.

The House of Representatives has yet to schedule a vote to override the governor's veto, but leaders in that chamber, where the bill to lift the one-year "sunset" provision in the current law passed by a wide margin, said it would be done before the legislature adjourns for the year.

Once the veto of a single bill (there are identical versions passed by the House and Senate) has been overridden in both chambers, the law will become permanent.

The original law also had to overcome a Carcieri veto.

The sunset provision meant the medical marijuana law would expire on June 30 unless the legislature voted to make it permanent.

The law allows patients with debilitating illnesses under a doctor's care, or their caregivers, to grow or other otherwise obtain marijuana in very limited quantities (up to 2.5 usable ounces or 12 plants) for their own use without fear of arrest or prosecution by state or local law enforcement authorities.

They would still be subject to federal prosecution, but the vast majority of drug arrests come at the state level, and the federal Drug Enforcement Agency generally targets major traffickers, not individual users.

The new law would also make a few minor adjustments to the program, including making the patients' and caregivers' registration cards valid for two years instead of one and limiting the total quantity of marijuana caregivers can possess.

"During the hearings for this legislation, we heard from many sick people who told us that the opportunity to use marijuana has given them relief that they were never able to find through conventional medicine. The program has worked exactly the way it should, and we should be compassionate and let sick people have this means of easing their pain," said Sen. Rhoda Perry, prime sponsor of the Senate bill.

"It's clear that there's wide support for medical marijuana in Rhode Island. Polls have shown that the citizens believe that we should allow it. You can see from the margins in House and the Senate that the legislators are equally behind it. Rhode Islanders want marijuana to be an option for our loved ones or ourselves if we are ever in a situation where we would need it," said Rep. Thomas Slater, who introduced the legislation in the House.

Voting against the veto override were Woonsocket Sen. Marc Cote and Coventry Sen. Leo Blais.

News Mod: CoZmO - 420Magazine.com
Source: The Pawtucket Times (RI)
Contact: editor@pawtuckettimes.com
Copyright: 2007 The Pawtucket Times
Website: The Pawtucket Times
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