Parts of New Law Take Effect Tomorrow

Tomorrow is Friday July 1 and the following aspects of the new law take effect. As of tomorrow:

  • Patients can use any and all of three compassion centers without registering them as caregivers. Patients just have to bring their MMj cards to any and/or all of the compassion centers starting on Friday
  • All patient and caregiver grows must be in “one premises”. So, for example, you cannot grow seedlings at one location and have your mature plants somewhere else.
  • Plant Limits for Patients and Caregivers: No grow can have more than 24 mature plants and 24 seedlings except non-residential co-ops, licensed cultivators (after they are actually licensed), and compassion centers. Even if you are a patient and a caregiver with 2-5 patients, you cannot have more than 24 mature plants but the permissible amount of seedlings doubles from 12 to 24.  No change in plant limits for patients who are growing (It is still 12 mature and 12 seedlings). Caregivers growing for one patient may still have up to 12 mature plants. The new law states that all caregivers can possess up to 24 seedlings but caregivers with only one patient will be limited to 12 tags for seedlings when tags are available on April 1. So, between July 1 and April 1 there will be confusion. We suggest that caregivers with one patient proceed cautiously and not exceed 12 seedlings.  Reminder: a seedling is a plant with no observable flowers or buds.
  • Making of BHO (butane hash oil) by patients and caregivers is prohibited. Cannot use any compressed flammable gas as a solvent for extractions.
  • Patients can appoint only ONE caregiver. Compassion centers are no longer considered caregivers so patients do not have to register them and can use all three. But they may have just ONE caregiver and one authorized purchaser. If you are currently a patient with two caregivers you don’t need to drop one but when you renew your card, you will have to choose ONE caregiver.
  • Expedited applications for patients who are eligible for chemotherapy or hospice: Physician must submit written statement and Health Dept. will process within five days.
  • Co-ops can double number of seedlings: Residential co-ops can possess 24 mature plants and 24 seedlings. Non-residential co-ops can possess 48 mature plants and 48 seedlings.

Future regulations will be determining many specifics of the new law. Proposed regulations will be issued prior to public hearings and final regulations will be issued after the hearings. The exact timetable is unknown but we should have many new regulations by the first of the year. The subjects of regulations will be:

  • setting possession limits on the amount of wet MMj that patients and caregivers may have and possession limits for edibles and concentrates
  • The Health Dept. has been charged with enforcing the law that requires patients and caregivers to grow in one location and not exceed plant counts. Regulations will determine the specifics. Inspections were not specified in the statute but the regulations could.
  • We are also expecting regulations on authorized purchasers. An authorized purchaser is an adult who is at least 21 years old who is appointed by a patient to purchase medicine on their behalf at the compassion centers. They cannot grow, must pass national criminal records check, and can only have one patient. Regulations will determine registration fee.
  • The Dept. of Business Regulation (DBR) will be licensing and regulating the compassion centers, licensed cultivators and co-ops. DBR will be issuing regulations on product packaging for compassion centers. Health Dept will be issuing regulations on testing MMj at compassion centers
  • Licensed Cultivators will be the only ones selling to compassion centers after January 1. The qualifications, plant numbers, fees, etc to be determined by DBR regulations.

As of January 1, 2017

  • Patient and caregiver licenses will expire in ONE year instead of two. So all cards issued to new patients after January 1 will be for one year. Patients who renew their cards after January 1 will also be issued one year cards. So, for example, if your card expires in June 2018, you will have your two year card until then. When you renew, your new card will be a one year card. The Governor’s office tells us that they do not intend to increase registration or renewal fees. So, if you are paying 100 dollars for your two year card, the fee should be 50 dollars for your one year card.
  • Patients and caregivers will no longer be able to sell excess to compassion centers. Only those with a Cultivator License can sell to them.
  • Co-ops must apply to DBR for a license. License fees and details will be determined by regulation

As of April 1, 2017 – Tags

  • Every MMj plant in RI, with the exception of compassion center plants, must have a tag. The cost of tags for patient and caregiver plants will be 25 dollars a set. A set is two tags – one for a mature plant and one for a seedling.
  • Free tags will be given to patients who qualify because of their incomes or disability. Specifics will be in regulations. It is estimated that more that 30% of patients will qualify. According to Governor’s office, qualifying patients will receive a set of 12 free tags for themselves and another set of 12 free tags for their caregiver.


Update on PTSD LEGISLATION:   Due to the large quantity of bills passed by the General Assembly in the final days of their session, they are not sending all the bills to the Governor at the same time. As of yesterday, the PTSD bill had still not reached her desk and it may not until next week. She is not expected to veto the bill. If she doesn’t sign it and doesn’t veto it, it will automatically become law 10 days after it reaches her. The bill will add PTSD to the list of qualifying conditions. It will also waive application fees for hospice patients. It has some overlap with the Budget. The PTSD bill requires Health Dept. to expedite applications for hospice patients. The budget, which is now law, requires the Health Dept to expedite applications for chemotherapy and hospice patients.




Meeting to Learn More About Changes in the Law

The Johnston patient meeting tomorrow night  (Tuesday, June 28) will focus on the upcoming changes in the law governing the MMj Program.  Bring your questions.  Keep in mind that the Health Dept. and Dept. of Business Regulation will be issuing regulations which will detail some of the changes.  7pm at 1192 Plainfield Street, Johnston, RI at the American Postal Workers Union Hall.

RI Legislature Has Adjourned for the Year – Results

After an all night session, the General Assembly adjourned for the year on Saturday. Here is where legislation stands:

The Senate easily passed the House Budget with the most recent version of Article 14 subA. The Senate made no additional changes. It will become law after the Governor signs it.  That does not mean that all the new rules will be effective immediately. Plant tags, for example go into effect on April 1, 2017. We will be posting a list of timetables in the next couple of days.

PTSD was passed by the General Assembly. It is expected to become law because the Governor is expected either sign it or take no action. As long as she does not veto, it will become law.

There were a couple of bills considered in the final days that did not pass. One bill would have restricted vaping. That bill passed the House but was not considered by the Senate. Another would have banned vape lounges and put more restrictions on where patients could medicate.  That bill did not make it out of the House Judiciary Committee.


Late Filed Bill Would Restrict Where Patients Medicate and Prohibit Vape Lounges

H 8345 would prohibit consumption of MMj in any form in public and other settings.The bill’s sponsor, Rep.Maldonado agreed to redraft the bill so that it will not interfere with a patient’s need to medicate.  Her intent is to prohibit vape lounges.

The current law prohibits smoking in pubic but is silent on other means of administration.

PTSD passed the House

The PTSD bill passed the House  today, 6/16/16.  There was only one vote against it.  Rep. Chippendale gave an a dynamic endorsement from the floor.  Now it is on to the Governor.  We don’t know if she will sign, but we have been lead to believe that she will not veto.  We are almost there.

Thank you to Rep.Slater who has made this bill a priority.