Rhode Island allows medical marijuana use under limited circumstances. However, it is still a crime to drive under the influence of marijuana, and other laws regarding marijuana possession for non-medical purposes will still apply.
For information about how Rhode Island treats illegal marijuana possession, sale, and manufacture, see Rhode Island Marijuana Laws.
For information on driving under the influence charges in Rhode Island, see Driving Under the Influence of Marijuana in Rhode Island.
Medical Marijuana Use
Rhode Island allows medical marijuana use by patients with a variety of debilitating illnesses and symptoms. This law removes the criminal penalties that would otherwise apply to nonmedical marijuana possession and use. To gain such protection, patients must obtain a written recommendation from a physician, register with the state, and obtain a registry identification card. Each patient may designate a primary caregiver (who must also register with the state) to help the patient cultivate marijuana plants, and manage the patient’s medicinal marijuana dosage and use. (R.I. Gen. Laws Ann. § 21-28.6-4.)
Legal Possession Amounts
Each patient may possess and use up to two and a half ounces of usable marijuana, and may cultivate up to 12 mature marijuana plants. A patient may give marijuana to (or exchange marijuana with) another registered patient, as long as there is no payment, and the amounts do not exceed the legal limits just described. (R.I. Gen. Laws Ann. § 21-28.6-4(a).)
Primary caregivers may possess—but not use—up to five ounces of usable marijuana and up to 12 marijuana plant seedlings, in addition to possessing and managing the patient’s usable marijuana and plants; and may receive reimbursement for costs without violating the laws concerning illegal marijuana sales. (R.I. Gen. Laws Ann. § 21-28.6-4(c),(d),(f), &(l).)
Presumption of Legal Possession and Use
A patient or caregiver who possesses a registry ID card and does not exceed the legal marijuana possession amounts is presumed to be engaged in the legal possession (or use) of medical marijuana. However, a prosecutor may rebut this presumption by presenting evidence that the patient or caregiver possessed or used the marijuana in a way that violated Rhode Island’s medical marijuana laws. This evidence may include possession of an amount that exceeds the legal limit, or conduct related to marijuana that was not for the purpose of treating or alleviating the patient’s medical condition or symptoms. (R.I. Gen. Laws Ann. § 21-28.6-4(e).)
Penalties for Illegal Sale and Use
A person may not knowingly or intentionally possess or use medicinal marijuana, unless such use is in accordance with the regulations described above. Using medicinal marijuana without a valid prescription and ID card is punishable with the same penalties imposed for illegal marijuana use and possession, depending on the amount illegally used or possessed. To learn more about Rhode Island marijuana laws and penalties for illegal use or possession, see Rhode Island Marijuana Laws.
An Important Note on Local Legal Representation
If you have been charged with a marijuana-related offense, consult an experienced criminal defense attorney. While the penalties and consequences of a marijuana charge are governed by statutory law, only a local criminal defense attorney can tell you how cases like yours tend to be handled by prosecutors and judges in your courthouse.