Rhode Island's medical marijuana act, also known as The Edward O. Hawkins and Thomas C. Slater Medical Marijuana Act, or S0710, passed on Jan. 3, 2006. The bill was initially vetoed by Republican Gov. Donald Carcieri in June 2015, but the House overrode Carcieri's veto a few months later, making Rhode Island the 11th state to legalize medical cannabis.
The act is named after the late Democratic state Rep. Thomas Slater, a prominent state lawmaker and sponsor of legislation to legalize medical marijuana who died in 2009 from lung cancer, and Edward Hawkins, a Rhode Island resident who died in 2004 of complications from HIV/AIDS.
The act permits those with debilitating medical conditions to use marijuana with a written certification from a physician. Joseph Wendelken, a spokesperson for the Rhode Island Department of Health, which oversees the state's medical marijuana program, told Weedmaps News there are roughly 18,200 registered patients as of April 25, 2019.
Rhode Island's Qualifying Conditions
- Alzheimer's disease
- Cachexia, or wasting syndrome
- Chronic pain
- Crohn's disease
- Hepatitis C
- Multiple sclerosis
- Seizures, including those characteristic of epilepsy
- Severe and persistent muscle spasms
Applying for Medical Marijuana in Rhode Island
Patients must obtain written certification from a physician stating that medical marijuana may alleviate their symptoms and that the potential benefits of using marijuana would likely outweigh the health risks to the patient. Physicians are required to fill out a Practitioner Written Certification Form to allow patients to apply, and patients must fill out a Patient Application Form.
For patients, the application fee is $50. A discounted fee is available for recipients of Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Social Security Disability Income (SSDI), Federal Railroad Disability or Veterans' Disability.
Patients, caregivers, and authorized purchasers are allowed to acquire 2 1/2 ounces, or 70.87 grams, of cannabis every 15 days.
Appointing a Caregiver
Registered patients may designate one caregiver and one authorized purchaser to acquire medical cannabis for them. Individual caregivers may be responsible for up to five patients. The annual caregiver fee is $100. Authorized purchasers can only be associated with one patient.
Caregivers must be designated by patients on their Patient Application Form.
Acquiring Your Medicine
The state has three dispensaries, also called compassion centers. They are: The Thomas C. Slater Compassion Center in Providence, (401) 274-1000; The Greenleaf Compassionate Care Center in Portsmouth, (401) 293-5987; and the Summit Medical Compassion Center in Warwick, (401) 889-3990.
There is no limit to the number of patients a compassion center may serve.
Rules for Patients Visiting from Other States (Reciprocity)
The state recognizes reciprocity, so people who hold state-issued cards in other states can acquire medical cannabis from Rhode Island's compassion centers with proof of certification from their home state.