04 January 2006

Rhode Island Becomes 11th Medical Marijuana State

this is a pretty interesting story. it seems that the rhode island legislature overrode their governors veto and legalized medical marijuana.

its pretty strange when you think about it - making illegal a plant that occurs naturally. we wonder what it would be like if say smoking oak tree leaves or acorns had the same effect instead of marijuana.

how would the government handled that? lol

anyway heres the story. oh and by the way we found that marijuana plant picture on a google image search so please dont bust our door down in the middle of the night or any other time. thanks.

House overrides Carcieri's medical marijuana veto

By M.L. Johnson, Associated Press Writer - January 3, 2006

PROVIDENCE, R.I. --Rhode Island on Tuesday became the 11th state to legalize medical marijuana and the first since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in June that patients who use the drug can still be prosecuted under federal law.

House lawmakers voted 59-13 to override a veto by Gov. Don Carcieri, allowing people with illnesses such as cancer and AIDS to grow up to 12 marijuana plants or buy 2.5 ounces of marijuana to relieve their symptoms. The law requires them to register with the state and get a photo identification card.

Federal law prohibits any use of marijuana, but Maine, Vermont, Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Montana, Nevada, Oregon and Washington allow it to be grown and used for medicinal purposes.

The U.S. high court ruled on June 6 that people who smoke marijuana because their doctors recommend it can still be prosecuted under federal drug laws.

Federal authorities conceded they were unlikely to prosecute many medicinal users, and Rhode Island lawmakers pressed on, passing their medical marijuana bill on June 7.

Carcieri vetoed it, and the state Senate voted the next day to override his veto, but the House recessed before following suit. Tuesday's House vote came just before the start of the 2006 session, allowing the law to take effect immediately.

Rep. Thomas Slater, D-Providence, and Sen. Rhoda E. Perry, D-Providence, introduced the legislation last year after watching family members suffer from terminal illnesses.

Perry's nephew died two years ago of AIDS. Although marijuana may have relieved his suffering, he never used it because it was illegal, she said.

Perry said after the vote that she was "very grateful on behalf of my family and my nephew."

Slater has cancer and several of his family members have died from it. He said he doesn't need marijuana now, but it could be part of his treatment in the future.

"I'm sure everybody in this room knows at least one person who would have benefited from medical marijuana," he said before the vote.

Carcieri reiterated his opposition to the bill on Tuesday, saying it fails to provide ways for users to buy marijuana legally and would leave Rhode Islanders open to federal prosecution.

"Users will be forced to purchase marijuana in the illegal street market, putting them at risk and complicating the difficult jobs that our law enforcement personnel must do every day," Carcieri said in a statement.

Warren Dolbashian, 34, of Cranston, said he has used marijuana to relieve symptoms of Tourette's syndrome since he was 17. Marijuana allows him to reduce the amount of other drugs he uses, which helps because those drugs cause fluid to build up around his heart, he said.

Tom Riley, a spokesman for the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, called the vote "largely symbolic" because of the existing federal law. He said he thought the vote showed "misguided and out-of-touch" views on the harms of marijuana.

"There's this notion from the 60s or the 70s that marijuana is a harmless drug," Riley said. "It's not."

The legislation contains a sunset provision that would cause it to expire on June 30, 2007 if no further action is taken.