TITLE 21
Food And Drugs

CHAPTER 21-28.6
The Edward O. Hawkins and Thomas C. Slater Medical Marijuana Act

SECTION 21-28.6-6


§ 21-28.6-6 Administration of department of health regulations.

(a) The department of health shall issue registry identification cards to qualifying patients who submit the following, in accordance with the department's regulations:

(1) Written certification as defined in § 21-28.6-3(24) of this chapter;

(2) Application or renewal fee;

(3) Name, address, and date of birth of the qualifying patient; provided, however, that if the patient is homeless, no address is required;

(4) Name, address, and telephone number of the qualifying patient's practitioner;

(5) Whether the patient elects to grow medical marijuana plants for himself or herself; and

(6) Name, address, and date of birth of one primary caregiver of the qualifying patient and one authorized purchaser for the qualifying patient, if any.

(b) The department of health shall not issue a registry identification card to a qualifying patient under the age of eighteen (18) unless:

(1) The qualifying patient's practitioner has explained the potential risks and benefits of the medical use of marijuana to the qualifying patient and to a parent, guardian, or person having legal custody of the qualifying patient; and

(2) A parent, guardian, or person having legal custody consents in writing to:

(i) Allow the qualifying patient's medical use of marijuana;

(ii) Serve as the qualifying patient's primary caregiver or authorized purchaser; and

(iii) Control the acquisition of the marijuana, the dosage, and the frequency of the medical use of marijuana by the qualifying patient.

(c) The department of health shall verify the information contained in an application or renewal submitted pursuant to this section, and shall approve or deny an application or renewal within thirty-five (35) days of receiving it. The department may deny an application or renewal only if the applicant did not provide the information required pursuant to this section, or if the department determines that the information provided was falsified. Rejection of an application or renewal is considered a final department action, subject to judicial review. Jurisdiction and venue for judicial review are vested in the superior court.

(d) If the qualifying patient's practitioner notifies the department in a written statement that the qualifying patient is eligible for hospice care or chemotherapy, the department of health shall give priority to these applications when verifying the information in accordance with subsection (c). Effective January 1, 2017, the department of health shall approve or deny a registry identification card to these qualifying patients within five (5) days of receipt of an application. The department of health may identify through regulation a list of other conditions qualifying a patient for expedited application processing.

(e) The department of health shall issue a registry identification card to the qualifying patient cardholder's primary caregiver, if any, who is named in the qualifying patient's approved application.

(1) A primary caregiver applicant or an authorized purchaser applicant shall apply to the bureau of criminal identification of the department of attorney general, department of public safety division of state police, or local police department for a national criminal records check that shall include fingerprints submitted to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Upon the discovery of any disqualifying information as defined in subdivision (e)(4), and in accordance with the rules promulgated by the director, the bureau of criminal identification of the department of attorney general, department of public safety division of state police, or the local police department shall inform the applicant, in writing, of the nature of the disqualifying information; and, without disclosing the nature of the disqualifying information, shall notify the department, in writing, that disqualifying information has been discovered.

(2) In those situations in which no disqualifying information has been found, the bureau of criminal identification of the department of attorney general, department of public safety division of state police, or the local police shall inform the applicant and the department, in writing, of this fact.

(3) The department of health shall maintain on file evidence that a criminal records check has been initiated on all applicants seeking a primary caregiver registry identification card or an authorized purchaser registry identification card and the results of the checks. The primary caregiver cardholder shall not be required to apply for a national criminal records check for each patient he or she is connected to through the department's registration process, provided that he or she has applied for a national criminal records check within the previous two (2) years in accordance with this chapter. The department shall not require a primary caregiver cardholder or an authorized purchaser cardholder to apply for a national criminal records check more than once every two (2) years.

(4) Information produced by a national criminal records check pertaining to a conviction for any felony offense under chapter 28 of title 21 ("Rhode Island Controlled Substances Act"), murder, manslaughter, rape, first-degree sexual assault, second-degree sexual assault, first-degree child molestation, second-degree child molestation, kidnapping, first-degree arson, second-degree arson, mayhem, robbery, burglary, breaking and entering, assault with a dangerous weapon, assault or battery involving grave bodily injury, and/or assault with intent to commit any offense punishable as a felony or a similar offense from any other jurisdiction shall result in a letter to the applicant and the department of health disqualifying the applicant. If disqualifying information has been found, the department may use its discretion to issue a primary caregiver registry identification card or an authorized purchaser registry identification card if the applicant's connected patient is an immediate family member and the card is restricted to that patient only.

(5) The primary caregiver or authorized purchaser applicant shall be responsible for any expense associated with the national criminal records check.

(6) For purposes of this section, "conviction" means, in addition to judgments of conviction entered by a court subsequent to a finding of guilty or a plea of guilty, those instances where the defendant has entered a plea of nolo contendere and has received a sentence of probation and those instances where a defendant has entered into a deferred sentence agreement with the attorney general.

(f)(i) On or before December 31, 2016, the department of health shall issue registry identification cards within five (5) business days of approving an application or renewal that shall expire two (2) years after the date of issuance.

(ii) Effective January 1, 2017, and thereafter, the department of health shall issue registry identification cards within five (5) business days of approving an application or renewal that shall expire one year after the date of issuance.

(iii) Registry identification cards shall contain:

(1) The date of issuance and expiration date of the registry identification card;

(2) A random registry identification number;

(3) A photograph; and

(4) Any additional information as required by regulation or the department of health.

(g) Persons issued registry identification cards by the department of health shall be subject to the following:

(1) A qualifying patient cardholder shall notify the department of health of any change in his or her name, address, primary caregiver, or authorized purchaser; or if he or she ceases to have his or her debilitating medical condition, within ten (10) days of such change.

(2) A qualifying patient cardholder who fails to notify the department of health of any of these changes is responsible for a civil infraction, punishable by a fine of no more than one hundred fifty dollars ($150). If the patient cardholder has ceased to suffer from a debilitating medical condition, the card shall be deemed null and void and the person shall be liable for any other penalties that may apply to the person's nonmedical use of marijuana.

(3) A primary caregiver cardholder or authorized purchaser shall notify the department of health of any change in his or her name or address within ten (10) days of such change. A primary caregiver cardholder or authorized purchaser who fails to notify the department of any of these changes is responsible for a civil infraction, punishable by a fine of no more than one hundred fifty dollars ($150).

(4) When a qualifying patient cardholder or primary caregiver cardholder notifies the department of health of any changes listed in this subsection, the department of health shall issue the qualifying patient cardholder and each primary caregiver cardholder a new registry identification card within ten (10) days of receiving the updated information and a ten-dollar ($10.00) fee.

(5) When a qualifying patient cardholder changes his or her primary caregiver or authorized purchaser, the department of health shall notify the primary caregiver cardholder or authorized purchaser within ten (10) days. The primary caregiver cardholder's protections as provided in this chapter as to that patient shall expire ten (10) days after notification by the department. If the primary caregiver cardholder or authorized purchaser is connected to no other qualifying patient cardholders in the program, he or she must return his or her registry identification card to the department.

(6) If a cardholder or authorized purchaser loses his or her registry identification card, he or she shall notify the department and submit a ten-dollar ($10.00) fee within ten (10) days of losing the card. Within five (5) days, the department shall issue a new registry identification card with new random identification number.

(7) Effective January 1, 2019, if a patient cardholder chooses to alter his or her registration with regard to the growing of medical marijuana for himself or herself, he or she shall notify the department prior to the purchase of medical marijuana tags or the growing of medical marijuana plants.

(8) If a cardholder or authorized purchaser willfully violates any provision of this chapter as determined by the department, his or her registry identification card may be revoked.

(h) Possession of, or application for, a registry identification card shall not constitute probable cause or reasonable suspicion, nor shall it be used to support the search of the person or property of the person possessing or applying for the registry identification card, or otherwise subject the person or property of the person to inspection by any governmental agency.

(i)(1) Applications and supporting information submitted by qualifying patients, including information regarding their primary caregivers, authorized purchaser, and practitioners, are confidential and protected under the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, and shall be exempt from the provisions of chapter 2 of title 38 et seq. (Rhode Island access to public records act) and not subject to disclosure, except to authorized employees of the department of health as necessary to perform official duties of the department, and pursuant to subsection (j).

(2) The application for qualifying patient's registry identification card shall include a question asking whether the patient would like the department of health to notify him or her of any clinical studies about marijuana's risk or efficacy. The department of health shall inform those patients who answer in the affirmative of any such studies it is notified of, that will be conducted in Rhode Island. The department of health may also notify those patients of medical studies conducted outside of Rhode Island.

(3) The department of health shall maintain a confidential list of the persons to whom the department of health has issued registry identification cards. Individual names and other identifying information on the list shall be confidential, exempt from the provisions of Rhode Island access to public information, chapter 2 of title 38, and not subject to disclosure, except to authorized employees of the department of health as necessary to perform official duties of the department.

(j) Notwithstanding subsection (i), the department of health shall verify to law enforcement personnel whether a registry identification card is valid solely by confirming the random registry identification number or name. This verification may occur through the use of a shared database, provided that any confidential information in this database is protected in accordance with subdivision (i)(1).

(k) It shall be a crime, punishable by up to one hundred eighty (180) days in jail and a one thousand dollar ($1,000) fine, for any person, including an employee or official of the departments of health, business regulation, public safety, or another state agency or local government, to breach the confidentiality of information obtained pursuant to this chapter. Notwithstanding this provision, the department employees may notify law enforcement about falsified or fraudulent information submitted to the department.

(l) On or before the fifteenth day of the month following the end of each quarter of the fiscal year, the department of health shall report to the governor, the speaker of the house of representatives, and the president of the senate on applications for the use of marijuana for symptom relief. The report shall provide:

(1) The number of applications for registration as a qualifying patient, primary caregiver, or authorized purchaser that have been made to the department during the preceding quarter, the number of qualifying patients, primary caregivers, and authorized purchasers approved, the nature of the debilitating medical conditions of the qualifying patients, the number of registrations revoked, and the number and specializations, if any, of practitioners providing written certification for qualifying patients.

(m) On or before September 30 of each year, the department of health shall report to the governor, the speaker of the house of representatives, and the president of the senate on the use of marijuana for symptom relief. The report shall provide:

(1) The total number of applications for registration as a qualifying patient, primary caregiver, or authorized purchaser that have been made to the department, the number of qualifying patients, primary caregivers, and authorized purchasers approved, the nature of the debilitating medical conditions of the qualifying patients, the number of registrations revoked, and the number and specializations, if any, of practitioners providing written certification for qualifying patients;

(2) The number of active qualifying patient, primary caregiver, and authorized purchaser registrations as of June 30 of the preceding fiscal year;

(3) An evaluation of the costs permitting the use of marijuana for symptom relief, including any costs to law enforcement agencies and costs of any litigation;

(4) Statistics regarding the number of marijuana-related prosecutions against registered patients and caregivers, and an analysis of the facts underlying those prosecutions;

(5) Statistics regarding the number of prosecutions against physicians for violations of this chapter; and

(6) Whether the United States Food and Drug Administration has altered its position regarding the use of marijuana for medical purposes or has approved alternative delivery systems for marijuana.

History of Section.
(P.L. 2005, ch. 442, § 1; P.L. 2005, ch. 443, § 1; P.L. 2007, ch. 72, § 1; P.L. 2007, ch. 495, § 1; P.L. 2009, ch. 16, § 1; P.L. 2009, ch. 17, § 1; P.L. 2010, ch. 110, § 1; P.L. 2010, ch. 229, § 1; P.L. 2012, ch. 88, § 1; P.L. 2012, ch. 118, § 1; P.L. 2014, ch. 515, § 2; P.L. 2016, ch. 142, art. 14, § 1.)