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Rhode Island
legalizes medical marijuana

Rhode Island
legalizes medical marijuana

Rhode Island on Tuesday became the 11th state to legalize medical marijuana and the first since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in June that patients who use the drug can still be prosecuted under federal law.

The state house overrode a veto by Gov. Don Carcieri 59-13, allowing people with illnesses such as cancer and HIV to grow up to 12 marijuana plants or buy 2.5 ounces of marijuana to relieve their symptoms. Those who do so are required to register with the state and get an identification card.

Federal law prohibits any use of marijuana, but Maine, Vermont, Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington allow it to be grown and used for medicinal purposes.

The U.S. high court ruled June 6 that people who smoke marijuana because their doctors recommend it can still be prosecuted under federal drug laws, even if their states allow it. Federal authorities, however, have conceded they are unlikely to prosecute many medicinal marijuana users.

"I'm sure everybody in this room knows at least one person who would have benefited from medical marijuana," Rhode Island state representative Thomas Slater, who has cancer, told fellow lawmakers before the vote. Slater said he doesn't use marijuana now but that it could become part of his treatment in the future. (AP)

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