PROVIDENCE -- A bill that would allow patients with serious diseases to grow and smoke marijuana continued its advance through the General Assembly, winning overwhelming support from House lawmakers yesterday.
Qualifying patients suffering from such diseases as cancer, AIDS and Hepatitis C would be shielded from arrest and prosecution under the bill, which passed 52-10. Their doctors and physicians also would be protected.
Rhode Island would become the 11th state to authorize the medical use of marijuana, according to the legislation.
Under the bill, patients would be able to possess up to 12 marijuana plants or 2.5 ounces of usable marijuana.
Supporters say it provides a compassionate way to ease the pain of the seriously ill. But some questioned a provision allowing people to grow the drug in their homes.
The House Health, Education and Welfare Committee was expected to take a Senate bill and conform it with the House version. That bill would then return to both chambers.
Governor Don Carcieri has threatened to veto the bill. But legislators said it had enough votes to override a veto.