How To Get A Medical Marijuana Card in Rhode Island 2021

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In Growing Marijuana in Rhode Island – RI Cannabis State Laws (2021) we gave a brief overview on how Rhode Island residents can apply to their state’s medical marijuana program. Recreational marijuana is still strictly prohibited in The Ocean State which is why residents who need to legally use cannabis for their condition should register for a medical marijuana card.

Overview of Medical Marijuana in Rhode Island

In November 2006, medical marijuana was legalized in Rhode Island by way of Edward O. Hawkins and Thomas C. Slater Medical Marijuana Act. The bill passed the House and the Senate in 2005 but was vetoed by Gov. Don Carcieri. The veto was then overridden by the Legislature.

You can read up on the law here: CHAPTER 21-28.6 The Edward O. Hawkins and Thomas C. Slater Medical Marijuana Act.

Rhode Island’s medical marijuana law allows registered patients and their caregivers to possess up to 2.5 ounces. The state’s cultivation laws are also surprisingly generous, up to 12 mature plants and 12 seedlings.

Qualifying conditions 

To qualify, a patient must have at least one of the following conditions:

  • Alzheimer’s Disease
  • Austism
  • Cachexia
  • Cancer
  • Chronic pain
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Glaucoma
  • Hepatitis C
  • HIV/AIDS
  • Nausea
  • Persistent muscle spasms
  • Post traumatic stress disorder
  • Seizures

If your condition is not listed above, you may consult with a physician to see if your health issue will get better with the use of medical marijuana. If you are able to get a written certification from your healthcare provider, you may be able to get a limited amount of marijuana without breaking the law.

Even minors afflicted with a condition that need medical marijuana can register for the program but they must designate a custodial parent or legal guardian as their primary caregiver or authorized purchaser. 

Caregivers

Those who want to apply as a caregiver in Rhode Island must be a resident at least 21 years of age. Applicants who have had felony convictions including, but not limited to, felony drug convictions may be disqualified. Primary caregivers may assist up to five patients but patients are only limited to one caregiver.

Patients also have the option to designate an authorized purchaser. Likewise, the applicant should be at least 21 years old and must undergo a criminal background check but they may live out of state.

Why should you get a medical marijuana card in Rhode Island?

Since adult-use marijuana is still illegal in Rhode Island, patients who want to legally obtain cannabis medication in the state will have to register for a medical marijuana card. The program is also the only way a minor can legally use marijuana. 

How to get a medical marijuana card in Rhode Island

Applying to Rhode Island’s medical marijuana program is fairly simple. You just have to submit your completed forms, requirements and payment by US mail. Applicants who are receiving chemotherapy or hospice care will be expedited and approved within seventy-two hours. If you are qualified and would like to apply, here are the steps you should follow:

For patients, minor patients, and caregivers

  1. Make sure you have a copy of the following which can serve as proof of identification and Rhode Island residence: 
    1. Rhode Island driver’s licence
    2. State ID
    3. Any correspondence from another state agency, current vehicle registration, car insurance bill or voter’s registration.

2. Print out the Medical Marijuana New Patient form and bring it to your appointment with your physician. If your condition qualifies for medical marijuana, your doctor will fill out the Practitioner Written Certification section of your application form.

You may get a Written Certification Form from an Advanced Practice Nurse, Physician Assistant or Physician (MD, DO) licensed to practice in the state or Physician (MD, DO) licensed to practice in MA or CT.

  1. Fill out the Declaration of Person Responsible for a Minor to Participate section of the form as well, if the applicant is under 18 years old.

4. If designating a caregiver, the patient should also fill out the Natural Person Caregiver – Initial Application and Authorized Purchaser sections of the patient application form. The caregiver should get a background check (NCIC) from their local police department, the Rhode Island Department of the Attorney General (401-274-4400), or by appointment with the Rhode Island State Police (401-444-1000). Once the check is done, it will be sent directly to the Department of Health and a copy will be sent to the one who requested it.

Send the completed forms, requirements, and payment to:

Center for Professional Licensing
Room 105A
Rhode Island Department of Health
3 Capitol Hill
Providence RI 02908

The application fee for a new patient and authorized purchasers is $50 and caregivers, $100. This should be sent as a check or money order Payable to RI General Treasurer. However, those participating in the following financial aid program may apply for a reduced fee of $25.00: 

  • Medicaid
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
  • Social Security Disability Income (SSDI)
  • Federal Railroad Disability benefit. (NOT Social Security or Medicare)
  • Veterans’ Disability 

The Rhode Island Department of Health will approve or decline applications within 35 days.

Frequently Asked Questions on Getting a Rhode Island Medical Marijuana Card

Why do I need to medical marijuana card?

Having a Rhode Island medical marijuana ID card is the only way patients in the state with a debilitating condition will be able to legally use medical marijuana.

Who is eligible for medical marijuana card?

Patients in Rhode Island who have at least one qualifying condition may get a recommendation from a state licensed physician for medical marijuana.

Why would I want a medical marijuana card?

A medical marijuana card is the only way patients with a debilitating condition can use cannabis in Rhode Island.

How long does the process take?

It can take up to 35 days for your Rhode Island medical marijuana card application to be approved or declined.

How much does it cost to obtain a medical marijuana card?

It costs $50 to apply for a medical marijuana card in Rhode Island but those who are participating in Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Social Security Disability Income (SSDI), Federal Railroad Disability benefit (NOT Social Security or Medicare)Veterans’ Disability may apply for a reduced fee.

How many plants can I grow with medical marijuana card?

Registered patients may grow up to 12 mature plants, 12 immature plants and an unlimited number of seedlings in Rhode Island

How much marijuana can I keep with medical marijuana card?

Rhode Island’s medical marijuana law allows registered patients and their caregivers to possess up to 2.5 ounces.

Conclusion

If you’re a patient in Rhode Island who needs marijuana for your condition, you don’t really have a choice but to register for a medical marijuana card. Registering into the state’s medical cannabis program is the only legal way for patients, as well as minors, to legally use marijuana. Compared to other states, the registration process in Rhode Island has fewer requirements and although the caregiver fees are quite steep, the cultivation limit is still one of the most generous in the nation. 

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