UPDATE: Marijuana Bill Clears Hurdles

Jim Finnel

Fallen Cannabis Warrior & Ex News Moderator
PROVIDENCE - Legislation that would make permanent Rhode Island's legalization of marijuana use for medical purposes passed two more important hurdles this week.

Bills eliminating the current law's June 30 sunset clause passed committees in both chambers, the House Health, Education and Welfare Committee passed one Tuesday on a 10-3 vote and the Senate Health and Human Services Committee passed an identical measure Wednesday on a unanimous voice vote.

The House bill will now go to the House floor for a vote and the Senate bill to the Senate floor, after which, if it passes, each will go across the Rotunda to be voted on in the other chamber. If successful they would both then go to Gov. Donald Carcieri for his signature or veto. Carcieri has not said if he would repeat his 2005 veto of the original medical marijuana legislation, which was overridden by the General Assembly.

The law allows persons with degenerative, debilitating or fatal diseases who get certification from a physician and up to two "care givers" to possess up to 2.5 ounces of "usable marijuana" or to grow their own plants. They must register with the Department of Health, which issues identification cards that exempt them from the threat of arrest, prosecution or confiscation.

However, there is no legal means for them to procure the drug, or the seeds, which must be bought on the black market. The drug remains illegal under federal law and the Rhode Island law does not exempt patients from federal arrest or prosecution.

Sen. Rhoda Perry, chairwoman of the Health and Human Services Committee and Senate sponsor of the medical marijuana bill that bears the name of her late nephew, Edward O. Hawkins, told committee members the legislation reduces the number of plants medical marijuana patients and caregivers are allowed to have from 60 to 24.

Numerous out-of-state advocacy groups, including Drug Free Kids: America's Challenge, AmeriCares, The Chemical People and the Institute on Global Drug Policy, wrote to the Senate committee urging defeat of the the legislation and the renewed prohibition of medical use of marijuana.

Rhode Island is one of 11 states to legalize the medical use of marijuana. Since the law was passed, more than 200 patients and almost as many caregivers have received Department of Health cards identifying them as being certified to use medical marijuana.

News Hawk- User 420 MAGAZINE ® - Medical Marijuana Publication & Social Networking
Source: The Pawtucket Times
Author: Jim Baron
Contact: The Pawtucket Times - News - Contact Us
Copyright: The Pawtucket Times 2007
Website: The Pawtucket Times - Marijuana bills clear hurdles
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