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Rhode Island
lawmakers pass medical marijuana bill

Rhode Island
lawmakers pass medical marijuana bill

Despite a U.S. Supreme Court decision earlier this month that says federal antidrug laws trump state-level measures that permit medical marijuana use, the Rhode Island general assembly on Tuesday overwhelmingly approved a medical marijuana bill. The measure, which protects those with chronic illnesses like HIV and cancer from being arrested by state authorities for marijuana use, now goes to Gov. Donald Carcieri, a Republican, for approval. The bill passed the state house in a 52-10 vote and the state senate in a unanimous 30-0 vote. Carcieri has previously threatened to veto the measure. Lawmakers say they are prepared to override his veto if Carcieri chooses to reject the bill.

If the bill becomes law, Rhode Island would become only the third state to enact a medical marijuana law via the legislative process, according to the Marijuana Policy Project, which lobbied for passage of the measure. Of the 10 states that have enacted similar laws allowing seriously ill patients to use medical marijuana with their doctors' approval--Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington--all but Hawaii's and Vermont's laws were enacted through ballot initiatives.

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