2009 Rhode Island Code
Title 21 - Food And Drugs
CHAPTER 21-28.6 - The Edward O. Hawkins and Thomas C. Slater Medical Marijuana Act
§ 21-28.6-12 - Compassion centers.

SECTION 21-28.6-12

   § 21-28.6-12  Compassion centers. – (a) A compassion center registered under this section may acquire, possess, cultivate, manufacture, deliver, transfer, transport, supply, or dispense marijuana, or related supplies and educational materials, to registered qualifying patients and their registered primary caregivers who have designated it as one of their primary caregivers. A compassion center is a primary caregiver. Except as specifically provided to the contrary, all provisions of the Edward O. Hawkins and Thomas C. Slater Medical Marijuana Act, §§ 21-28.6-1 – 21-28.6-11, apply to a compassion center unless they conflict with a provision contained in § 21-28.6-12.

   (b) Registration of compassion centers–department authority:

   (1) Not later than ninety (90) days after the effective date of this act, the department shall promulgate regulations governing the manner in which it shall consider applications for registration certificates for compassion centers, including regulations governing:

   (i) The form and content of registration and renewal applications;

   (ii) Minimum oversight requirements for compassion centers;

   (iii) Minimum record-keeping requirements for compassion centers;

   (iv) Minimum security requirements for compassion centers; and

   (v) Procedures for suspending or terminating the registration of compassion centers that violate the provisions of this section or the regulations promulgated pursuant to this subsection.

   (2) Within ninety (90) days of the effective date of this act, the department shall begin accepting applications for the operation of a single compassion center.

   (3) Within one hundred fifty (150) days of the effective date of this act, the department shall provide for at least one public hearing on the granting of an application to a single compassion center.

   (4) Within one hundred ninety (190) days of the effective date of this act, the department shall grant a single registration certificate to a single compassion center, providing at least one applicant has applied who meets the requirements of this act.

   (5) If at any time after fifteen (15) months after the effective date of this act, there is no operational compassion center in Rhode Island, the department shall accept applications, provide for input from the public, and issue a registration certificate for a compassion center if a qualified applicant exists.

   (6) Within two (2) years of the effective date of this act, the department shall begin accepting applications to provide registration certificates for two (2) additional compassion centers. The department shall solicit input from the public, and issue registration certificates if qualified applicants exist.

   (7) Any time a compassion center registration certificate is revoked, is relinquished, or expires, the department shall accept applications for a new compassion center.

   (8) If at any time after three (3) years after the effective date of this act, fewer than three (3) compassion centers are holding valid registration certificates in Rhode Island, the department shall accept applications for a new compassion center. No more than three (3) compassion centers may hold valid registration certificates at one time.

   (c) Compassion center and agent applications and registration:

   (1) Each application for a compassion center shall include:

   (i) A non-refundable application fee paid to the department in the amount of two hundred fifty dollars ($250);

   (ii) The proposed legal name and proposed articles of incorporation of the compassion center;

   (iii) The proposed physical address of the compassion center, if a precise address has been determined, or, if not, the general location where it would be located. This may include a second location for the cultivation of medical marijuana;

   (iv) A description of the enclosed, locked facility that would be used in the cultivation of marijuana;

   (v) The name, address, and date of birth of each principal officer and board member of the compassion center;

   (vi) Proposed security and safety measures which shall include at least one security alarm system for each location, planned measures to deter and prevent the unauthorized entrance into areas containing marijuana and the theft of marijuana, as well as a draft employee instruction manual including security policies, safety and security procedures, personal safety and crime prevention techniques; and

   (vii) Proposed procedures to ensure accurate record keeping;

   (2) Any time one or more compassion center registration applications are being considered, the department shall also allow for comment by the public and shall solicit input from registered qualifying patients, registered primary caregivers; and the towns or cities where the applicants would be located;

   (3) Each time a compassion center certificate is granted, the decision shall be based upon the overall health needs of qualified patients and the safety of the public, including, but not limited to, the following factors:

   (i) Convenience to patients from throughout the state of Rhode Island to the compassion centers if the applicant were approved;

   (ii) The applicants' ability to provide a steady supply to the registered qualifying patients in the state;

   (iii) The applicants' experience running a non-profit or business;

   (iv) The wishes of qualifying patients regarding which applicant be granted a registration certificate;

   (v) The wishes of the city or town where the dispensary would be located;

   (vi) The sufficiency of the applicant's plans for record keeping and security, which records shall be considered confidential health care information under Rhode Island law and are intended to be deemed protected health care information for purposes of the Federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, as amended; and

   (vii) The sufficiency of the applicant's plans for safety and security, including proposed location, security devices employed, and staffing;

   (4) After a compassion center is approved, but before it begins operations, it shall submit the following to the department:

   (i) A fee paid to the department in the amount of five thousand dollars ($5,000);

   (ii) The legal name and articles of incorporation of the compassion center;

   (iii) The physical address of the compassion center; this may include a second address for the secure cultivation of marijuana;

   (iv) The name, address, and date of birth of each principal officer and board member of the compassion center;

   (v) The name, address, and date of birth of any person who will be an agent of or employed by the compassion center at its inception;

   (5) The department shall track the number of registered qualifying patients who designate each compassion center as a primary caregiver, and issue a written statement to the compassion center of the number of qualifying patients who have designated the compassion center to serve as a primary caregiver for them. This statement shall be updated each time a new registered qualifying patient designates the compassion center or ceases to designate the compassion center and may be transmitted electronically if the department's regulations so provide. The department may provide by regulation that the updated written statements will not be issued more frequently than twice each week;

   (6) Except as provided in subdivision (7), the department shall issue each principal officer, board member, agent, volunteer and employee of a compassion center a registry identification card or renewal card within ten (10) days of receipt of the person's name, address, date of birth, and a fee in an amount established by the department. Each card shall specify that the cardholder is a principal officer, board member, agent, volunteer, or employee of a compassion center and shall contain the following:

   (i) The name, address, and date of birth of the principal officer, board member, agent, volunteer or employee;

   (ii) The legal name of the compassion center to which the principal officer, board member, agent, volunteer or employee is affiliated;

   (iii) A random identification number that is unique to the cardholder;

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

   (v) A photograph, if the department decides to require one;

   (7) Except as provided in this subsection, the department shall not issue a registry identification card to any principal officer, board member, agent, volunteer, or employee of a compassion center who has been convicted of a felony drug offense. The department may conduct a background check of each principal officer, board member, agent, volunteer, or employee in order to carry out this provision. The department shall notify the compassion center in writing of the purpose for denying the registry identification card. The department may grant such person a registry identification card if the department determines that the offense was for conduct that occurred prior to the enactment of the Edward O. Hawkins and Thomas C. Slater Medical Marijuana Act or that was prosecuted by an authority other than the state of Rhode Island and for which the Edward O. Hawkins and Thomas C. Slater Medical Marijuana Act would otherwise have prevented a conviction;

   (8) A registry identification card of a principal officer, board member, agent, volunteer, or employee shall expire one year after its issuance, or upon the expiration of the registered organization's registration certificate, whichever occurs first.

   (d) Expiration or termination of compassion center:

   (1) A compassion center's registration shall expire two (2) years after its registration certificate is issued. The compassion center may submit a renewal application beginning sixty (60) days prior to the expiration of its registration certificate;

   (2) The department shall grant a compassion center's renewal application within thirty (30) days of its submission if the following conditions are all satisfied:

   (i) The compassion center submits the materials required under subdivision (c)(4), including a five thousand dollar ($5,000) fee;

   (ii) The department has not ever suspended the compassion center's registration for violations of this act or regulations issued pursuant to this act;

   (iii) The legislative oversight committee's report, issued pursuant to subsection (j), indicates that the compassion center is adequately providing patients with access to medical marijuana at reasonable rates; and

   (iv) The legislative oversight committee's report, issued pursuant to subsection (j), does not raise serious concerns about the continued operation of the compassion center applying for renewal.

   (3) If the department determines that any of the conditions listed in paragraphs (d)(2)(i) – (iv) exist, the department shall begin an open application process for the operation of a compassion center. In granting a new registration certificate, the department shall consider factors listed in subdivision (c)(3);

   (4) The department shall issue a compassion center one or more thirty (30) day temporary registration certificates after that compassion center's registration would otherwise expire if the following conditions are all satisfied:

   (i) The compassion center previously applied for a renewal, but the department had not yet come to a decision;

   (ii) The compassion center requested a temporary registration certificate; and

   (iii) The compassion center has not had its registration certificate revoked due to violations of this act or regulations issued pursuant to this act.

   (e) Inspection. Compassion centers are subject to reasonable inspection by the department of health, division of facilities regulation. The department shall give reasonable notice of an inspection under this subsection. During an inspection, the department may review the compassion center's confidential records, including its dispensing records, which may track transactions according to qualifying patients' registry identification numbers to protect their confidentiality.

   (f) Compassion center requirements:

   (1) A compassion center shall be operated on a not-for-profit basis for the mutual benefit of its patients. A compassion center need not be recognized as a tax-exempt organization by the Internal Revenue Services;

   (2) A compassion center may not be located within five hundred feet (500') of the property line of a preexisting public or private school;

   (3) A compassion center shall notify the department within ten (10) days of when a principal officer, board member, agent, volunteer or employee ceases to work at the compassion center. His or her 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;

   (4) A compassion center shall notify the department in writing of the name, address, and date of birth of any new principal officer, board member, agent, volunteer or employee and shall submit a fee in an amount established by the department for a new registry identification card before a new agent or employee begins working at the compassion center;

   (5) A compassion center shall implement appropriate security measures to deter and prevent the unauthorized entrance into areas containing marijuana and the theft of marijuana and shall insure that each location has an operational security alarm system.

   (6) The operating documents of a compassion center shall include procedures for the oversight of the compassion center and procedures to ensure accurate record keeping;

   (7) A compassion center is prohibited from acquiring, possessing, cultivating, manufacturing, delivering, transferring, transporting, supplying, or dispensing marijuana for any purpose except to assist registered qualifying patients with the medical use of marijuana directly or through the qualifying patients other primary caregiver;

   (8) All principal officers and board members of a compassion center must be residents of the state of Rhode Island;

   (9) Each time a new registered qualifying patient visits a compassion center, it shall provide the patient with frequently asked questions designed by the department, which explains the limitations on the right to use medical marijuana under state law;

   (10) Each compassion center shall develop, implement, and maintain on the premises employee and agent policies and procedures to address the following requirements:

   (i) A job description or employment contract developed for all employees and a volunteer agreement for all volunteers, which includes duties, authority, responsibilities, qualification, and supervision; and

   (ii) Training in and adherence to state confidentiality laws.

   (11) Each compassion center shall maintain a personnel record for each employee and each volunteer that includes an application for employment or to volunteer and a record of any disciplinary action taken;

   (12) Each compassion center shall develop, implement, and maintain on the premises an on-site training curriculum, or enter into contractual relationships with outside resources capable of meeting employee training needs, which includes, but is not limited to, the following topics:

   (i) Professional conduct, ethics, and patient confidentiality; and

   (ii) Informational developments in the field of medical use of marijuana.

   (13) Each compassion center entity shall provide each employee and each volunteer, at the time of his or her initial appointment, training in the following:

   (i) The proper use of security measures and controls that have been adopted; and

   (ii) Specific procedural instructions on how to respond to an emergency, including robbery or violent accident;

   (14) All compassion centers shall prepare training documentation for each employee and have employees sign a statement indicating the date, time, and place the employee received said training and topics discussed, to include name and title of presenters. The compassion center shall maintain documentation of an employee's and a volunteer's training for a period of at least six (6) months after termination of an employee's employment or the volunteer's volunteering.

   (g) Maximum amount of usable marijuana to be dispensed:

   (1) A compassion center or principal officer, board member, agent, volunteer or employee of a compassion center may not dispense more than two and one half ounces (2.5 oz) of usable marijuana to a qualifying patient directly or through a qualifying patient's other primary caregiver during a fifteen (15) day period;

   (2) A compassion center or principal officer, board member, agent, volunteer or employee of a compassion center may not dispense an amount of usable marijuana or marijuana plants to a qualifying patient or a qualifying patient's other primary caregiver that the compassion center, principal officer, board member, agent, volunteer, or employee knows would cause the recipient to possess more marijuana than is permitted under the Edward O. Hawkins and Thomas C. Slater Medical Marijuana Act.

   (h) Immunity:

   (1) No registered compassion center shall be subject to prosecution; search, except by the department pursuant to subsection (e); seizure; or penalty in any manner or denied any right or privilege, including, but not limited to, civil penalty or disciplinary action by a business, occupational, or professional licensing board or entity, solely for acting in accordance with this section to assist registered qualifying patients to whom it is connected through the department's registration process with the medical use of marijuana;

   (2) No principal officers, board members, agents, volunteers, or employees of a registered compassion center shall be subject to arrest, prosecution, search, seizure, or penalty in any manner or denied any right or privilege, including, but not limited to, civil penalty or disciplinary action by a business, occupational, or professional licensing board or entity, solely for working for or with a compassion center to engage in acts permitted by this section.

   (i) Prohibitions:

   (1) A compassion center may not possess an amount of marijuana that exceeds the total of the allowable amount of marijuana for the registered qualifying patients for whom the compassion center is a registered primary caregiver;

   (2) A compassion center may not dispense, deliver, or otherwise transfer marijuana to a person other than a qualifying patient who has designated the compassion center as a primary caregiver or to such patient's other primary caregiver;

   (3) A person found to have violated paragraph (2) of this subsection may not be an employee, agent, principal officer, or board member of any compassion center, and such person's registry identification card shall be immediately revoked;

   (4) No person who has been convicted of a felony drug offense may be the principal officer, board member, agent, volunteer, or employee of a compassion center unless the department has determined that the person's conviction was for the medical use of marijuana or assisting with the medical use of marijuana and issued the person a registry identification card as provided under subdivision (c)(7). A person who is employed by or is an agent, principal officer, or board member of a compassion center in violation of this section is guilty of a civil violation punishable by a fine of up to one thousand dollars ($1,000). A subsequent violation of this section is a gross misdemeanor:

   (j) Legislative oversight committee:

   (1) The general assembly shall appoint a nine (9) member oversight committee comprised of: one member of the house of representatives; one member of the senate; one physician to be selected from a list provided by the Rhode Island medical society; one nurse to be selected from a list provided by the Rhode Island state nurses association; two (2) registered qualifying patients; one registered primary caregiver; one patient advocate to be selected from a list provided by the Rhode Island patient advocacy coalition; and one representative of the law enforcement community.

   (2) The oversight committee shall meet at least six (6) times per year for the purpose of evaluating and making recommendations to the general assembly regarding:

   (i) Patients' access to medical marijuana;

   (ii) Efficacy of compassion center;

   (iii) Physician participation in the Medical Marijuana Program;

   (iv) The definition of qualifying medical condition;

   (v) Research studies regarding health effects of medical marijuana for patients.

   (3) On or before January 1 of every even numbered year, the oversight committee shall report to the general assembly on its findings.

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