The general assembly finds and declares that:
(1) Modern medical research has discovered beneficial uses for marijuana in treating or alleviating pain, nausea, and other symptoms associated with certain debilitating medical conditions, as found by the National Academy of Sciences' Institute of Medicine in March 1999.
(2) According to the U.S. Sentencing Commission and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, ninety-nine (99) out of every one hundred (100) marijuana arrests in the United States are made under state law, rather than under federal law. Consequently, changing state law will have the practical effect of protecting from arrest the vast majority of seriously ill people who have a medical need to use marijuana.
(3) Although federal law currently prohibits any use of marijuana, the laws of Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington permit the medical use and cultivation of marijuana. Rhode Island joins in this effort for the health and welfare of its citizens.
(4) States are not required to enforce federal law or prosecute people for engaging in activities prohibited by federal law. Therefore, compliance with this chapter does not put the state of Rhode Island in violation of federal law.
(5) State law should make a distinction between the medical and nonmedical use of marijuana. Hence, the purpose of this chapter is to protect patients with debilitating medical conditions, and their physicians and primary caregivers, from arrest and prosecution, criminal and other penalties, and property forfeiture if such patients engage in the medical use of marijuana.
(6) The general assembly enacts this chapter pursuant to its police power to enact legislation for the protection of the health of its citizens, as reserved to the state in the Tenth Amendment of the United States Constitution.
(7) It is in the state's interests of public safety, public welfare, and the integrity of the medical marijuana program to ensure that the possession and cultivation of marijuana for the sole purpose of medical use for alleviating symptoms caused by debilitating medical conditions is adequately regulated.
(8) The goal of the medical marijuana program is to create a system that is transparent, safe, and responsive to the needs of patients. Consequently, the medical marijuana program requires regulation and a comprehensive regulatory structure that allows for oversight over all suppliers of medical marijuana while ensuring both safety and patient access.
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