January 27, 2020


Bill on compassion center expansion to be amended

The legislation will be narrowed to solely address pending litigation


STATE HOUSE – Revised legislation addressing separation of powers issues connected to compassion center licensing has bene posted for tomorrow. The proposed Substitute A’s scope focuses solely on the issue that is the subject of litigation, which is the requirement that department regulations must be approved by the legislature. House Speaker Nicholas A. Mattiello and Senate President Dominick J. Ruggerio, who sponsored the companion bills in the House and Senate, said they expect to debate outstanding marijuana issues during the remainder of the session.

The companion bills, 2020-H 7013A and 2020-S 2006A, are scheduled for committee votes tomorrow at the Rise of the House and Senate in their respective Judiciary Committees.

Said Speaker Mattiello (D-Dist. 15, Cranston) and Senate President Ruggerio (D-Dist. 4, North Providence, Providence) in a joint statement: “For us, this bill was never about the merits of issues around the medical marijuana system in Rhode Island. This legislation was only about separation of powers issues. The fact is that the administration clearly overstepped their authority and attempted to legislate through their regulations. The proposed regulations include provisions that the Governor tried and failed to enact through the Legislature. To then turn around and put those provisions into regulations is an attempt to unconstitutionally skirt the legislative process. However, marijuana issues will be discussed throughout this legislative session. We believe that at this point the best path forward is to enact legislation that addresses the single regulatory approval issue that is the subject of the lawsuit, and we can consider related legislation separately.”

The amended, or “Sub A,” language will be posted on the committees’ agendas today (House Judiciary Committee posting; Senate Judiciary Committee posting). 

The proposal removes a provision in state law that regulations created by the executive branch are subject to the approval of the Legislature. The Governor filed a lawsuit contending that this provision violates separation of powers. Speaker Mattiello and President Ruggerio believe regulations subsequently proposed by the executive branch constitute a breach of separation of powers in their own right.


For an electronic version of this and all press releases published by the Legislative Press and Public Information Bureau, please visit our website at www.rilegislature.gov/pressrelease.