The Rhode Island Senate Tuesday approved legislation that protects patients and their primary caregivers who use and prescribe marijuana for medical reasons from arrest.
The bill passed by a 33 to 1 margin. It passed the House earlier this month and will be sent on to the governor for approval.
The Edward O. Hawkins and Thomas C. Slater Medical Marijuana Act allows patients under a doctor's supervision and their caregivers to grow or otherwise acquire marijuana plants in very limited quantities - up to 12 plants or 2.5 ounces of "usable" marijuana.
The legislation would grant a state ID card that would protect them from arrest under state drug possession laws. Despite the fact the U.S. Supreme Court ruled earlier this month that federal officials have the authority to enforce federal marijuana laws, most drug arrests come at the state level.
State legislators emphasized the law doesn't legalize recreational marijuana use, and is narrow in scope to limit the drug's use to patients with a debilitating disease, who are under a doctor's care and registered with the state.
If the law is approved, Rhode Island would become the 11th state in the nation to allow medical marijuana use.