On January 3, 2006, in an unmistakable signal to Congress that the states are demanding change, the Rhode Island General Assembly overwhelmingly overrode the governor's veto of the Marijuana Policy Project's bill to protect medical marijuana patients from arrest -- making Rhode Island the 11th medical marijuana state.
The legislature sent the bill to Gov. Donald Carcieri (R) on June 28. He vetoed it on June 29 -- despite overwhelming support from the public and the state's leading medical organizations ... and despite the landslide votes of 30-0 in the Senate and 52-10 in the House. On January 3, 2006, more than the required three-fifths of each chamber voted to override the veto, enacting the bill into law.

The legislature's action is a strong retort to Congress, which on June 15 voted down federal protections for medical marijuana patients by 161-264. This sweeping victory sends a powerful signal to Congress that more and more states will be pushing back until Congress feels obligated to change federal law.
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Rhode Island is only the third state to enact a medical marijuana law via the legislative process, and the first to do so after a governor's veto. Of the 10 states that have enacted similar laws allowing seriously ill patients to use medical marijuana with their doctor's recommendation -- Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington -- all but Hawaii's and Vermont's laws were enacted through ballot initiatives.

The bill allows patients suffering from serious illnesses -- including AIDS, cancer, multiple sclerosis, and others -- and their caretakers to possess and grow medical marijuana for personal use, with the approval of a doctor.