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Rhode Island legalizes medical marijuana with veto override

[JURIST] The Rhode Island House of Representatives voted [RI press release] 59-13 on Tuesday in favor of overriding the veto of Gov. Don Carcieri [official website] of a bill [text] legalizing the prescription of marijuana to seriously ill patients. The law, effective immediately, allows critically ill people to grow as many as 12 plants, or to purchase as much as 2.5 ounces of marijuana, with a doctor's permission as needed to treat their symptoms. Though advocates say the bill is good news for AIDS and cancer patients, Carcieri cautioned that the bill fails to provide legal users with legal sources of the drug, and potentially exposes Rhode Island citizens to federal convictions. The US Supreme Court issued a 6-3 decision last June in Gonzales v. Raich [Duke Law backgrounder; text] that validated the power of Congress to criminalize the use and growth of medical marijuana for medical reasons with a doctor's approval, citing a broad reading of the commerce clause in support of its decision. Ten other states - Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont and Washington - have also legalized medical marijuana [JURIST news archive]. AP has more.

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