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Rhode Island Will Become First State to Officially License Nonprofit Centers to Dispense Medical Marijuana

In spite of Governor Donald Carcieri's veto of a Rhode Island bill that proposed authorization of state-licensed medical marijuana dispensaries, Rhode Island will become, in Huffington Post writer Ryan Grim's words ("Rhode Island Will License Medical Marijuana Shops"), "the first in the nation to have one officially licensed nonprofit center selling marijuana" once the new law goes into effect. "Over time," Grim continues, "the state will license further nonprofit dispensaries." Rhode Island's House and Senate members voted near-unanimously to override Carcieri's veto in mid-June.

Rhode Island will thus become the third medical marijuana state (joining California and New Mexico) to allow patients to obtain their medicine through a dispensary system. As Reason's Jacob Sollum reported on June 19 ("All but Three Rhode Island Legislators Vote to Approve Medical Marijuana Dispensaries"), "Rhode Island Rep. Thomas Slater (D-Providence), a cancer patient who plans to use marijuana for pain relief, told his colleagues, 'This gives a safe haven for those who have to go into the seedy areas to try and get marijuana.'" Indeed, as Grim writes, "a much publicized incident in which a pot dealer beat up a medical marijuana patient" highlighted the state's need for legal, regulated outlets through which patients could obtain their doctor-recommended herb. And thanks to the majority of Rhode Island's legislators, one such outlet will be in operation as early as 2010.

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