Wondering how to get a medical marijuana card in Rhode Island? Well, if you’re already an Ocean State resident and can verify your residency, the process is generally a pretty easy and straightforward one (at least compared to most other states).
In this article, we outline everything you need to do to get your valid MMJ license in a simple, easy to follow format. In most instances (once your condition is approved by a physician), the entire process usually only takes about 5 to 10 business days.
Before we go over the steps, though, let’s take a quick look at Rhode Island’s current laws regarding the use and possession of marijuana.
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Medical Marijuana in Rhode Island: A Brief Rundown on Legislation
Rhode Island has a history with cannabis that dates all the way back to 1918, when they first banned marijuana without a prescription. It took the state nearly one hundred years to finally change its marijuana laws.
While Senate Bill 0710, relating to medical marijuana use in Rhode Island, was first approved in June 2005, it spent several months being suspended because it was vetoed and then over-ridden.
On 3 January 2006, the House ultimately overrode the veto and passed what’s now known as the Edward O. Hawkins and Thomas C. Slater Medical Marijuana Act.
Today, as long as patients have obtained a valid doctor’s recommendation stating that marijuana “eases their symptoms” and that the benefits “outweigh the health risks,” they can register for medical marijuana and purchase their medication from one of three state-run medical dispensaries (see below for a list of which one is nearest you).
Current Rhode Island Marijuana Laws
To be clear, recreational use of marijuana has NOT as of yet been approved in Rhode Island. There have been a couple of bills in recent years that have proposed legislation which would’ve made it legal on various levels, but none of them have been passed.
However, possession of less than 1 oz of weed has been decriminalized in the state, and is now defined as a “civil violation” (with a fine of $150) rather than an actual criminal penalty.
If you are caught with more than 1 oz of marijuana in Rhode Island, however, and you do not have a valid medical marijuana card, criminal penalties are still applied.
Possession of up to 1 kg, for example, is a misdemeanor charge with a potential jail sentence of 1 year (and a maximum fine of $500), while possession of more than 1 kg is a felony with “intent to distribute,” and can be punishable with a prison sentence of 10-50 years and a maximum fine of $500,000.
As such, if you’re serious about growing medical marijuana in Rhode Island and/or purchasing it for use in the treatment of a medical condition, it is imperative that you apply for a medical marijuana card.
Let’s see how to do it.
Qualifying Conditions for Medical Marijuana in Rhode Island
In order to obtain a medical marijuana card in Rhode Island, you must be diagnosed with one of the following qualifying medical conditions before you can register as a patient and submit your application online:
[Also be advised that you MUST be a resident of the state, and be able to provide proof of residency].
Here are the qualifying medical conditions:
- Cancer (or treatment including chemotherapy and radiation)
- Hepatitis C
- Cachexia (Wasting Syndrome)
- Severe, debilitating, chronic pain
- Severe nausea
- Seizures (including those characteristic of epilepsy)
- Severe muscle spasms (including those characteristic of Multiple sclerosis)
- Crohn’s disease
- Alzheimer’s Disease
- PTSD (must be 18 or older)
In order to qualify for a medical marijuana card in Rhode Island, you MUST be diagnosed with one of the above conditions, and receive written documentation on an official form (see below) that the use of marijuana will be a safe and medically beneficial treatment.
Here are the steps to how to apply for a medical marijuana card in Rhode Island.
How Do I Apply for a Medical Marijuana Card in Rhode Island?
So let’s get right to it. Here are the steps that you will need to follow in order to get your medical marijuana card in Rhode Island.
*[Be advised that ALL applicants must be able to submit a copy of one of the following to verify proof of Rhode Island residence: Rhode Island driver’s license / State ID card / Current car insurance bill / Voter Registration Card / Any correspondence from another state agency]
Step 1 – Contact a healthcare provider
The first step in applying for medical marijuana in Rhode Island is to get in touch with a healthcare practitioner (see list below for qualifying providers) that will be willing to look over your medical history and complete the Practitioner Written Certification Form on your behalf.
This is the form that effectively states you have one of the qualifying conditions, and that marijuana will be a safe and effective treatment for it.
If your current doctor/practitioner is NOT willing to sign the form for you, be advised that there are practitioners in the state who specialize in medical marijuana diagnoses (feel free to contact us directly for a list of potential doctors).
*Also, please note that physicians (MD/DO), Physician Assistants (PA), or Advance Practice Registered Nurses (APRN) that are licensed in Rhode Island may fill out the form for you. If you are using a physician (MD/DO), they may be licensed in either Rhode Island, Connecticut, or Massachusetts.
Step 2 – Register and apply for the ID card
Once you find a practiotioner who can complete the Practitioner Written Certification Form for you, you will then need to access and complete the Patient Application Form online.
You will need to provide a valid phone number and email address. If your application is approved, you will be contacted by the health department to schedule a photo to be taken for the ID card.
*It is also relevant to point out that you should take all relevant medical history forms with you to your initial MMJ consultation – particularly your history stating that you have a qualifying medical condition.
Step 3 – Wait for approval
That’s pretty much it! Once you have completed the Practitioner Written Certification Form and the Patient Application Form (and submitted them both together online), you will simply wait to hear back from the Medical Marijuana Program as to whether or not you’ve been approved.
As we said earlier, most applications are either approved or denied within 5-10 business days. If approved, you will be contacted to arrange an appointment to take your photograph for the ID card. Once you have the ID card, you can go to one of the state’s three dispensaries to purchase medical marijuana.
*Be advised that practitioners who specialize in medical marijuana recommendations typically charge between $200-$300 for an MMJ consultation. For your initial visit, you will usually be required to bring:
- Your medical history/documentation
- A valid photo ID
- The Patient Application Form
Additional Information on How to Get a Medical Marijuana Card in Rhode Island
The steps outlined above are for an adult patient who is applying for medical marijuana in Rhode Island without the need of a caregiver or authorized purchaser.
If you are a minor (under the age of 18), or if you need to authorize a caregiver or purchaser on your behalf, be advised that additional steps must be taken in order to complete the application.
ALL Minors applying for medical marijuana in Rhode Island must:
- Designate a parent or legal guardian as their primary caregiver or authorized purchaser
- Complete the appropriate sections on the application form
To assign a Designated Caregiver, the applicant must:
- Fill out the appropriate section on the application form (may not designate more than one caregiver)
To assign an Authorized Purchaser, the applicant must:
- Fill out the appropriate section on the application form (may not designate more than one caregiver)
[For information on application fees, growing your own medical marijuana in Rhode Island, and how to renew your medical marijuana card in Rhode Island, see below FAQ].
FAQ: Medical Marijuana in Rhode Island
How much does it cost to apply for a medical marijuana card in Rhode island?
The standard application fee is $50. For patients that qualify for hospice, there is NO FEE. For patients that qualify for one of the following benefits (and can provide proof), the cost is $25:
- Medicaid Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
- Social Security Disability Income (SSDI)
- Veterans disability
- Federal railroad disability
[You can get proof of your SSI or SSDI benefit at www.ssa.gov].
Can i grow my own medical Marijuana in Rhode Island?
Yes, although you will need to declare your intent to grow/cultivate on the application form. You will also need to register your grow location with the Rhode Island Department of Business Regulation. If approved, you will be permitted to have twelve plants and twelve seedlings in a single location.
How much marijuana can I buy/possess?
Your card allows you to carry around the maximum amount of cannabis permitted by the state’s Medical Marijuana Act. The limit is currently set at 2.5 oz. According to dispensary regulations, patients can purchase up to 2.5 oz every 15-day period.
How do I renew my medical marijuana card in rhode island?
Your Rhode Island medical marijuana card will be valid for one year, after which you will need to renew it. Both you and your physician will be mailed a renewal form 30 to 60-days prior to the expiration date. If you don’t receive this form and are aware that your expiration date is coming up, you can email the Rhode Island Registry to request the renewal form.
Next, you will need to schedule an evaluation with your physician to re-assess your condition and determine if you are still in need of medical marijuana. You can then submit the updated paperwork to the RI Department of Health. There is no need to get a new photo at the point of renewal, your same ID photo will be used on your new license.
Where can I buy medical marijuana in rhode island?
Only three active dispensaries are currently in operation in Rhode Island. As of July 2018, the dispensaries are:
- Greenleaf Compassionate Care Center (Portsmouth)
- Thomas C. Slater Compassion Center (Providence)
- Summit Medical Compassion Center (Warwick)
How long does it take for my application to be approved?
As mentioned above, most completed applications will either be approved or denied within 5 to 10 business days of receipt.
Can i use my medical marijuana card anywhere?
The laws that permit the use, sale and cultivation of medical marijuana in Rhode Island restrict where weed can be smoked to private residences. You may not consume weed in public.
How much does medical marijuana in rhode island cost?
Being that there are only three dispensaries in Rhode Island that supply roughly 20,000 medical marijuana patients, there is worry that many individuals will soon be “priced out” due to demand and high costs.
A gram of medical marijuana may cost anywhere between $10 – $15 in Rhode Island (or more, depending on the strain), and an ounce will generally run anywhere between $250 – $350.
*Talks are currently ongoing to propose a bill that would allow for the recreational use of marijuana in Rhode Island. Until such a bill is passed, however, all legal cannabis users in the state MUST possess a valid MMJ card to treat their medical condition.
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