The use of medical marijuana became legal under the Edward O. Hawkins and Thomas C. Slater Medical Marijuana Act on January 3, 2006. It was amended June 1, 2007.
The program is administered by the Rhode Island Medical Marijuana Program.
To be eligible to register for a medical marijuana card in RI you must suffer from one of the eligible medical conditions (listed below) and your doctor must provide written certification that marijuana may alleviate that condition.
Rhode Island Medical Marijuana Program: Eligible Medical Conditions
- Hepatitis C
- Treatment for any of these conditions
In addition, a doctor may recommend medical marijuana for other debilitating conditions if the condition produces one of the following conditions in the patient:
- Severe, debilitating, chronic pain
- Severe nausea
- Seizures, including those that are characteristic of epilepsy
- Persistent muscle spasms, including those that are characteristic of multiple sclerosis or Crohn’s Disease
- Agitation of Alzheimer’s Disease
If you would like to obtain a written certification for medical marijuana for a condition that is not explicitly covered by the state law you should consult their doctor and attorney in advance of applying for a MMP identification card.
Rhode Island Medical Marijuana Program: Primary Caregiver
As part of the application process, you may designate somebody to be your primary caregiver. The person you nominate will receive protection under state law for helping to provide you with medical marijuana.
- Be at least 21 years of age
- Have no felony drug convictions
- Are not required to have a medical background or medical training
This means that anybody who has significant responsibility for managing your well-being can be a caregiver.
- Caregivers can be designated on the initial application by the patient for a medical marijuana license and are entitled to manufacture or possess medical marijuana in order to provide that medicine to you, the patient.
- After approval by the Department of Health, both you and your primary caregiver should be protected from state or local prosecution for possession or cultivation of marijuana that is used solely for the medical purposes within the state guidelines for allowable quantities. However, you and your caregiver remain subject to potential federal prosecution despite the state law allowing for medical marijuana use in Rhode Island.
- Currently, you may have more than two caregivers, and no caregiver can have more than 24 mature plants, 12 seedlings, and 5 ounces of usable medicine, regardless of the number of patients he or she has.
Rhode Island Medical Marijuana Program: Allowable Quantities of Marijuana
You or your primary caregiver may possess:
(a) No more than two and a half (2.5) ounces of a usable form of marijuana; and
(b) No more than twelve (12) mature marijuana plants (readily observable buds).
(c) No more than twelve (12) immature marijuana plants (no readily observable buds).
Rhode Island Medical Marijuana Program: How to Register
- Contact your regular physician to find out if he or she may be willing to discuss the utility of medical marijuana for alleviating your debilitating condition. Do some research before visiting your doctor and be prepared to point your doctor toward scientific evidence that medical marijuana may help your condition. At a minimum, be ready to explain how medical marijuana will relieve your condition.
- Take all the relevant Medical Marijuana Application Forms to your appointment
- You should also take a copy of Rhode Island’s medical marijuana law
- If your doctor will not discuss this medicine with you, seek another doctor who will discuss the option with you
- Doctors are prohibited under federal law from writing prescriptions for medical marijuana BUT at least one United States Court of Appeals (covering California, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Nevada, Arizona, Alaska, Montana, and Hawaii) has ruled that doctors have a First Amendment right to “recommend” marijuana to patients
- This is the Conant v McCaffrey
case and it might help alleviate your doctor’s concerns to read the full text
- Contact Rhode Island Patient Advocacy Coalition (RIPAC) for information on doctors in your area who may be willing to discuss if medical marijuana is right for you
- If a doctor agrees that you would benefit from medical marijuana, the doctor may fill out a state-issued recommendation form
- Your doctor needs to sign the “Physician Form” of the application form issued by the Rhode Island Department of Health, to enable you to obtain a medical marijuana license
- Fees for obtaining a Rhode Island medical marijuana card are $75 or $10 if you are on Medicaid/SSI/SSDI
- You will need to have your Medical Marijuana Card renewed and pay the fee every other year
- You should see your doctor ever two years to keep your recommendation current
- The Health Department will approve or deny your application within 30 days
- If your application is approved, you will be issued a medical marijuana card and your name will be added to the confidential Rhode Island Medical Marijuana Program. Its records cannot be accessed by anyone other than law enforcement agencies for the sole purpose of verifying that you are a licensed medical marijuana cardholder
- If a patient stops suffering from the debilitating medical condition due to being cured or otherwise, the medical marijuana card will no longer be valid.