Rhode Island Resoundingly Endorses Permanent Medical Marijuana Law
Huge Veto Override Comes as Congress Prepares to Consider Medical Marijuana


CONTACT: Bruce Mirken, MPP director of communications, 202-215-4205 or 415-668-6403

PROVIDENCE, RHODE ISLAND -- With the U.S. House of Representatives expected to consider a medical marijuana amendment within weeks, Rhode Island legislators have resoundingly overridden a gubernatorial veto to make that state's medical marijuana law permanent. Today's 58-11 House vote follows a 29-4 Senate vote to override on Wednesday.

    Rhode Island's original medical marijuana law - also passed over a veto by Gov. Donald Carcieri (R) - had a one-year sunset clause, and was due to expire June 30.

    "The fact that this override passed by an even larger margin than the original override last year says everything you need to know about how well the law has worked, and how completely uncontroversial it's been," said Ray Warren, director of state policies for the Marijuana Policy Project in Washington, D.C.

    "Thanks to this law, I have safe and legal access to my medicine, and I'm relieved that it's going to be permanent," said Bobby Ebert of Warwick, who uses medical marijuana to treat symptoms of AIDS.

    "Our legislature has stood with the scientific and medical community to ensure that I and hundreds of other seriously ill Rhode Islanders don't have to live in fear," said Rhonda O'Donnell, R.N., a multiple sclerosis patient who was the first to sign up for Rhode Island's program. "But the job won't be finished until every patient in every state who needs medical marijuana has complete protection. It's time for every state legislature and the U.S. Congress to change cruel and unscientific laws that criminalize the sick."

    The override heartened medical marijuana supporters in Washington, D.C., where the House of Representatives will soon vote on an amendment to bar the U.S. Department of Justice from interfering with state medical marijuana laws. "This vote helps show members of Congress that medical marijuana simply is no longer controversial, and not an issue they need to fear supporting," said MPP director of government relations Aaron Houston.

    With more than 23,000 members and 100,000 e-mail subscribers nationwide, the Marijuana Policy Project is the largest marijuana policy reform organization in the United States. MPP believes that the best way to minimize the harm associated with marijuana is to regulate marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol. For more information, please visit
www.MarijuanaPolicy.org.