WASHINGTON - February 12 - PROVIDENCE, RHODE ISLAND -- A medical marijuana bill introduced last week in the Rhode Island House is supported by an unprecedented bipartisan coalition of legislators. Like the successful and popular laws in Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawai'i, Maine, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington, H.B. 7588 would permit seriously ill patients to use and possess medical marijuana with their doctors' approval, without fear of arrest or jail.
Twenty representatives are signed on to the bill, including lead sponsor Thomas Slater (D-Providence). "This bill is about simple compassion and common sense. People fighting cancer, MS, or AIDS shouldn't have to suffer needlessly when medical marijuana can provide relief, and their doctors recommend it," said Rep. Slater.
An identical medical marijuana bill was introduced on February 11 in the Rhode Island Senate by Rhoda Perry (D-Providence) and four other sponsors.
Legislation to protect medical marijuana patients has drawn wide support from the medical and public health communities, including the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American Academy of HIV Medicine, the New England Journal of Medicine, and the American Nurses Association.
"Medical marijuana should be an option open to patients who are not benefiting from other medicines to improve HIV wasting," said Kenneth Mayer, M.D., director of the Brown University AIDS Program and chief of the Infectious Disease Division of the Memorial Hospital of Rhode Island.
"Right now, Rhode Island patients battling cancer, AIDS, or other life-threatening diseases face jail for trying to relieve their pain and nausea, but we are optimistic that this cruel and unnecessary policy will soon come to an end," said Neal Levine, director of state policies for the Marijuana Policy Project in Washington, D.C.