The Rhode Island House of Representatives voted to override Governor Donald Carcieri’s veto of the Marijuana Policy Project’s medical marijuana bill today, making Rhode Island the 11th state to make medical marijuana legal and the first to enact a medical marijuana law since the Supreme Court’s June decision in Gonzales v. Raich.
Rhode Island’s medical marijuana law is the third to be enacted by a state legislature, and the first passed by overriding a governor’s veto. (The other eight states’ medical marijuana laws were enacted via ballotinitiatives.)
“Today’s vote proves yet again that the movement to protect medical marijuana patients from arrest is unstoppable,” said Rob Kampia, executive director of the Washington, D.C.-based Marijuana Policy Project, which spearheaded the effort to pass the bill.
“Last June, White House Drug Czar John Walters proclaimed ‘the end of medical marijuana as a political issue’ in the wake of our loss in the U.S. Supreme Court, but he couldn’t have been more wrong. The public, the medical community, and Rhode Island legislators agree that patients with cancer, AIDS or multiple sclerosis should not be arrested for using medical marijuana on the advice of their physicians. We will continue to roll back the government’s war on the sick and dying, and the White House drug czar can’t stop us any more than he can make water flow uphill.”
MPP worked closely with a coalition of Rhode Island patients, medical experts and health advocates to build support for the bill. Organizations working to pass the bill included the Rhode Island Medical Society, the Rhode Island Nurses Association, and AIDS Project Rhode Island. In association with the Rhode Island Patient Advocacy Coalition, MPP recently sponsored a billboard near the statehouse and encouraged patients and other supporters to call and write their state representatives to urge them to override the governor’s veto.
Medical marijuana legislation continues to receive support in state legislatures around the country. Medical marijuana bills were introduced recently in Michigan and Wisconsin, and MPP has retained lobbyists to advocate for medical marijuana legislation in Illinois, Minnesota, and New York. Similar legislation is poised to pass in New Mexico.
With more than 19,000 members and 100,000 e-mail subscribers nationwide, the Marijuana Policy Project is the largest marijuana policy reform organization in the United States. MPP believes that the best way to minimize the harm associated with marijuana is to regulate marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol. For more information, please visit MarijuanaPolicy.org.