"Finally, Rhode Islanders with serious illnesses who find relief from medical marijuana will be able to access it safely at a state-regulated nonprofit," said Karen O'Keefe, director of state policies for the Marijuana Policy Project, which spearheaded the advocacy effort in support of the dispensary legislation in partnership with the Rhode Island Patient Advocacy Coalition. "Many patients find that marijuana is safer and more effective than a lot of the medications they have been prescribed. Fortunately, they will no longer have to put themselves at risk by purchasing it in an underground market."
The Slater Compassion Center received its registration certificate from the Rhode Island Department of Health on April 4, following a years-long approval process conducted by department regulators and other state agencies. It is named after late State Rep. Thomas Slater, who sponsored legislation in the House of Representatives to allow the medical use of marijuana, as well as legislation to add compassion centers to the law. Sen. Rhoda Perry sponsored the companion bill in the Senate.
Eighteen states and Washington, D.C. allow patients with qualifying conditions to use medical marijuana with recommendations from their physicians. State-regulated medical marijuana dispensaries are currently operating in Arizona, Colorado, Maine, New Jersey, New Mexico, and Rhode Island. They are expected to begin operating this month in D.C. and this summer in Vermont. The rule-making process is underway in Connecticut and Massachusetts, and lawmakers in California are considering regulating existing dispensaries.