Summary of 2020 Medical Marijuana Reform Legislation
Backed by a new grassroots group, the Medical Marijuana Patients Coalition, Rep. Scott Slater (D) and Sen. Josh Miller (D) have introduced legislation, H 7621 and S 2544, to implement significant reforms to Rhode Island’s medical marijuana program.
The proposal would create a hardship program to reduce the cost of medical marijuana for patients who qualify as low-income. It would also dramatically reduce licensing fees for compassion centers, prohibit discrimination against patients by state agencies, and remove the ban on people with prior drug felonies from owning or operating a medical marijuana business.
Here's a quick summary of the proposed legislation:
Directs the Dept. of Health to establish rules to create a hardship designation for patients who receive SSI, SSDI, or Medicaid or who apply in writing for hardship designation for other reasons.
Tasks the Dept. of Business Regulation with creating regulations for Compassion Centers to establish a discount medicine program for patients with a hardship designation. Patients with a hardship designation would receive at least a 30% discount on the total cost of products from Compassion Centers (before taxes are applied).
Eliminates the plant tagging system for patients and caregivers who cultivate their own medicine.
Removes the numerical limit on the number of licenses for Compassion Centers and instead requires the Dept. of Business Regulation to accept applications on a rolling basis and issue licenses until there is at least one Compassion Center for every 1,000 registered patients.
Changes the definition of a debilitating medical condition to “any serious health condition a practitioner believes, based on their experience, knowledge, and reasonable judgment as a health care provider, could be treated or alleviated with the use of medical marijuana.”
Prohibits state agencies and employees of the Rhode Island government from discriminating against patients solely for their use of medical marijuana or status as a patient and requires all official rules, regulations, and policies issued by state agencies to make reasonable accommodations for patients’ medical marijuana use.
Reverts the annual Compassion Center license fee to the original amount of $5,000.
Eliminates the 4% Compassion Center surcharge applied to medical marijuana sales.
Imposes October 1, 2020 as date after which all products sold by Compassion Centers must be tested by third-party laboratories.
Removes ownership and employment discriminations against people with prior drug offenses on their records.
Permits patients who cultivate their own medicine to securely store up to 16 ounces of useable marijuana in their residences.