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Rhode Island set to be the first state to pilot safe-injection sites for drug users

10/24/21--Rhode Island plans to create supervised spaces for users to inject illegal drugs, in a big test of the idea that reducing harm to drug users is more effective than criminalization. The two-year pilot, a first for a state, would establish sites where users could also have drugs tested for potentially fatal doses of fentanyl, the potent synthetic opioid that drove overdose deaths to a nationwide record in 2020. Read

Rhode Island is first state to support pilot harm reduction center

7/8/21--Rhode Island today became the first state in the nation to enact a law authorizing a two-year pilot program for harm reduction centers to help save lives from drug-related overdose and death. Harm reduction centers, also known as overdose prevention sites or supervised injection facilities, connect people who use drugs to resources and evidence-based harm reduction strategies and programs. The law will become effective March 1, 2022. Read

RI Gov. McKee legislation allowing safe-injection sites into law

7/7/21--Gov. Daniel McKee on Wednesday signed into law a proposal to help combat the opioid overdose crisis by creating safe injection sites for people to use illegal drugs under the oversight. The legislation, which makes Rhode Island the first to enact a statewide measure, establishes a two-year pilot program to prevent drug overdoses through the establishment of so-called “harm reduction centers,” or safe injection sites. Read

Recreational marijuana done well.

1/19/21--Both the outgoing and incoming Rhode Island governors as well as the Senate President have indicated that marijuana for recreational use will likely be legalized this year, and they also believe legalization has been adequately studied and the time is right. However, House Speaker Joseph Shekarchi has expressed that he will convene a study commission before deciding whether to proceed. Read

E-cigarette use among teens on the rise in Rhode Island

10/31/20--Rhode Island students in middle and high school reported using e-cigarettes at much higher rates than cigarettes, a youth risk behavior survey by the state Department of Health found. And from 2017 to 2019, the percentage of high school students using e-cigarettes in Rhode Island jumped from 20% to 30%, as traditional cigarette use declined. Read

2020 Medical Marijuana Program Annual Report to the Rhode Island General Assembly

9/28/20--The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) submission of the annual report on applications for the use of medical marijuana for symptom relief. Read

Medical Marijuana Program Bulletin 2020-8

8/27/20--This Bulletin is issued by the Rhode Island Department of Business Regulation (“DBR”), Office of Cannabis Regulation (“OCR”) to provide guidance regarding rotating warnings schedule and application for medical marijuana products offered for sale at a Compassion Center. Read

Rhode Island Court upholds “reasonable grounds” drug testing even where there is another possible explanation for employee’s behaviors

6/1/20--The Rhode Island Supreme Court affirmed the dismissal of a lawsuit against an employer who terminated an employee for refusing to submit to a reasonable suspicion drug test, even though the employee’s odd behaviors could have been attributable to pain or other things. Colpitts v. W.B. Mason Co., Inc., No. 2018-337-Appeal (R.I. May 29, 2020). Read

Raimondo budget sets up clash with lawmakers over car tax, marijuana

1/16/20--Governor Gina M. Raimondo's $10.2 billion tax-and-spending plan for the fiscal year that begins July 1 would make Rhode Island the first state in the country to have total control over the sale of marijuana, but asks for more time to fully phase out the car tax. However, House Speaker Nicholas A. Mattiello and Senate President Dominick J. Ruggerio have repeatedly said they oppose the legalization of marijuana. Read

Raimondo will propose legalizing pot in Rhode Island

1/13/19--Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo announced Sunday she will propose legalizing recreational marijuana in Rhode Island, joining other states across the Northeast in a rapid embrace of the policy. The governor is scheduled to release her budget plan on Thursday, which will include the legalization and strict regulation of adult-use marijuana. Read

Federal drug agency asks R.I. for medical marijuana patient data

9/15/17--The National Marijuana Initiative, an arm of the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area program, which reports to the White House, contacted the Rhode Island Department of Health seeking data from 2012 to 2016 on the number of patients in the program, as well as patients' age, gender, and a breakdown of the medical conditions under which they qualified. The move has alarmed some who question why the federal government, which has at times appeared to be antagonistic towards the drug, is interested in the information. Read

RI General Assembly kills legalized marijuana For 2017 with “study commission”

6/22/17--The Senate today approved legislation sponsored by Sen. Cynthia A. Coyne to create a 19-member joint legislative commission to study the effects of legalizing recreational marijuana use. The purpose of the commission would be to conduct a comprehensive review and make recommendations regarding marijuana and the effects of its use on the residents of Colorado and Washington to the extent available, and to study the fiscal impact to those states; and thereafter the potential impact on Rhode Island of legalized recreational marijuana. Read

RI ACLU files suit to block Smithfield’s restrictive medical marijuana ordinance

6/22/17--Civil libertarians filed suit Thursday against the town of Smithfield, charging its new ordinance against medical marijuana production infringes on rights allowed under state law. The American Civil Liberties Union of Rhode Island filed the lawsuit in Superior Court on behalf of two licensed medical marijuana patients and the Rhode Island Patient Advocacy Coalition (RIPAC), a medical marijuana educational group. Read

R.I. governor seeks to triple number of medical marijuana dispensaries

6/14/17--Gov. Gina Raimondo has proposed a plan that could create six more medical marijuana dispensaries in the state while increasing various licensing fees to generate another $1.5 million in general revenue. The governor submitted the budget amendment calling for “no less than six licensed compassion centers” in the state. The existing three centers would each be allowed to operate a second retail-only location, potentially bringing the total number of dispensaries in the state to nine. Read

R.I. legislators push bill to legalize marijuana in 2018

6/8/17--Marijuana legalization advocates are planning to introduce a scaled-back version of their legislation that would legalize the drug next year but put the brakes on immediate plans for retail stores. Sen. Joshua Miller, D-Cranston, said advocates are willing to compromise in a significant way to ensure that "progress" is made this year. Read

Toddler nearly dies from edible marijuana

6/2/17--Authorities in Rhode Island say a toddler nearly died from eating edible marijuana, and had been admitted to the pediatric intensive care unit at Hasbro Children's Hospital. The 2-year-old girl's grandfather was sick and had a doctor's note for medical marijuana. Police are treating it as an accident. Read

R.I. marijuana dispensaries would double under legislation

5/27/17--The number of medical marijuana patients in Rhode Island has more than tripled to 17,757 since the first medical marijuana dispensaries opened four years ago. Data provided by the state Department of Business Regulation show Rhode Island has the highest number of patients per allowed number of dispensaries of any state. There is a proposal in play to double the number of dispensaries to six. Proponents say there’s huge unmet demand, while opponents say what’s not being considered is the huge number of plants growing in homes — more than 10 times the number growing in the dispensaries. Read

Rhode Island governor calls for delay in legalizing rec marijuana

4/17/17--Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo is calling on lawmakers to delay passing legislation that would legalize adult-use cannabis. Raimondo says they should instead support legislation to create a 15-member study commission to make recommendations to lawmakers by March 1, 2018. Read

RI lawmakers debate marijuana legalization

4/12/17--Rhode Island lawmakers are tackling the controversial topic to legalize recreational marijuana. The issue was taken to the state house, and it was the first legislative hearing on the proposal to legalize marijuana in the state. Similar meetings have been held every year since 2011 but none have resulted in a vote.

Managing marijuana: How a Mass. lab makes sure it’s safe for patients

3/20/17--Medical marijuana has been legal in Rhode Island for a decade, but the state doesn’t require the drug to be tested before patients use it. In Massachusetts, where testing is required, Eyewitness News visited Proverde Laboratories to find out how the process works, what scientists look for, and if this testing will be in Rhode Island soon. Proverde Laboratories tests the drug in all its forms, from the plant to oils and edibles. Read

RI medical marijuana panel sets first meeting in eight years

3/20/17--Eight years after its formation, a legislative committee tasked with overseeing Rhode Island’s medical marijuana program will meet for the first time on March 28. The committee includes the head of the patient advocacy group that pushed for Rhode Island’s medical marijuana law as well as two MMJ patients and a caregiver. Read

Cranston designates zones for medical-marijuana growers

3/4/17--The city of Cranston has set aside places for state-licensed cultivators of medical marijuana to grow their product, allowing them to operate in industrial zones and one kind of commercial zone. The City Council last week changed the zoning code to accommodate cultivators. In the process, advocates of allowing farmers to grow medical marijuana where agriculture occurs lost out. Read

Owners of Warwick medical marijuana business arrested after state inspection

3/3/17--Stefanie Fischer and Thomas Moulton, the owners of Coastal Aeroponics LLC, were in the process of seeking one of the state's new marijuana cultivation licenses but were arrested during an unannounced inspection. Both were charged with possession with intent to deliver marijuana and possession of more than a kilogram of marijuana. Read

Medical marijuana garage alterations a factor in carbon monoxide death

2/22/17--A Smithfield mother and her three children were rushed to the hospital unconscious after debris clogged the exhaust pipe of the home's heating system. As a result, carbon monoxide filled the family's home, and the 47-year-old mother, Kristen LaTour, died a few days later. According to police reports, building inspectors believe the family's medical marijuana operation is partly to blame. Read

Could this East Coast state be the next to legalize recreational marijuana?

11/16/16--Rhode Island leaders are looking at following Massachusetts on the path to legalizing recreational marijuana. Gov. Gina Raimondo said she’ll take a more serious look after Massachusetts voters recently approved a pot legalization ballot measure. Read