June 14, 2009 – Medical marijuana patients in Rhode Island are on the verge of having safe access to their medicine legally under state law. The House and Senate have each images-7overwhelmingly passed the twin bills to allow the non-profit distribution of medical marijuana, with the Senate most recently approving the House bill in a 31-2 vote on June 9. This incredible legislative support has been heartwarming, and we are on the cusp of giving the state’s more than 600 medical marijuana patients safe and consistent access to the medicine they need!

H. 5359 and S. 0185 have been transmitted to Governor Donald Carcieri (R). He has until next Tuesday, June 16 to sign the bill, veto it, or allow it to become law without his signature. Unfortunately, given the governor’s history of vetoing compassionate medical marijuana bills in the past, we expect him to thwart the will of the people and the legislature and veto the bill. Then, we are hopeful both chambers will vote to override the governor’s veto. In order to do so, 60% of each chamber must vote for the legislation. Our compassion centers legislation has consistently garnered over 90% support in both chambers this year, and we are excited for these last historic voting opportunities.

After one of the votes, Representative Thomas C. Slater (D-Providence), H. 5359’s sponsor, commented, “We recognized when we created the medical marijuana program that marijuana has a legitimate medical application, and that patients should have access to it if they need it. But we forced them to deal with criminals in order to get it. We’re talking about very sick people, and they shouldn’t have to put themselves at risk to get their medicine.” This is a personal issue for Representative Slater, as he has been diagnosed with two types of cancer and is currently undergoing treatment. He is one of four of the six siblings in his family with the disease, and lost his father, brother, and uncle to cancer. The Providence Journal recently did a very moving profile of him and his years of fighting on behalf of seriously ill patients and other disadvantaged Rhode Island residents. Source.

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