Individuals who hold medical marijuana cards may be suffering from serious illnesses, but that doesn’t make them anti-social.
Already one “lounge” for medical marijuana card carriers has opened in Providence, and with states continuing to relax laws regarding marijuana use and new methods of imbibing (other than smoking) becoming available, the potential exists for more “vape lounges” to spring up.
These establishments are not currently regulated by state law but will be, if Senate Majority Leader Dominick J. Ruggerio’s legislation is enacted. The bill, 2015-S 0441, will establish registration procedures for vaping lounges and will set minimum oversight, reporting and safety requirements for their operation.
“As we become more lenient in our approach to the use of marijuana, especially our actions to make the substance available to individuals for its medicinal purposes, we need to remain committed to protecting the health and welfare of all of our citizens,” said Majority Leader Ruggerio (D-Dist. 4, Providence, North Providence). “The bill I’ve introduced adds definitions and regulations to state law to ensure that any vaping lounges that seek to operate in our state are doing so appropriately and safely.”
The Ruggerio bill defines a marijuana vaping lounge as “a gathering place for medical marijuana cardholders that transfers, supplies and/or sells devices that may be used in the delivery of marijuana to a person inhaling from the device.” Vaping devices include electric pipes or hookahs or any related electronic delivery system (similar to e-cigarettes that deliver nicotine electronically and without an open flame).
Vaping, whether the substance is tobacco or marijuana, is becoming increasingly popular, both for health reasons and because it does not violate the state’s indoor smoking ban (it’s not smoking if there is no open flame or combustion).
The Ruggerio legislation requires vaping lounges to register with the Department of Health, which is given the authority to establish the form and content of the registration and renewal application; set minimum oversight, record-keeping and security requirements for the lounges, and establish procedures for suspending, revoking or terminating the registration.
Under the legislation, only medical marijuana cardholders may become members and/or utilize the products and services providing by vaping lounges, which will be restricted to individuals over the age of 18 and will be prohibited from acquiring, possessing, cultivating, manufacturing, delivering, transferring, supplying or dispensing marijuana for any purpose.
Vaping lounges violating the license/regulation requirements face a $250 fine for a first violation, which increases to $500 for a second violation and $1,000 for a third or subsequent violation.
The bill has been referred to the Senate Committee on Judiciary. Co-sponsors include Sen. Joshua Miller (D-Dist. 28, Cranston, Providence), Sen. Maryellen Goodwin (D-Dist. 1, Providence), Sen. Gayle L. Goldin (D-Dist. 3, Providence) and Sen. Paul V. Jabour (D-Dist. 5, Providence).
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