Orlando Martino of Providence has been in and out of jail a half dozen times in the last 15 years, mostly for drug possession; once for selling illegal drugs to an undercover police officer and another time, for resisting arrest after the police chased him and wrestled him to the ground. The Providence Journal says that in October, a health clinic doctor checked off a box on Martino's application for a “medical marijuana card” that said he needed marijuana to “mitigate the symptoms” of a chronic and debilitating medical condition.
On December 1, the state sent Martino, 36, a white card that allows him to smoke marijuana any time he wants, without fear of further prosecution, a distinction he now shares with 1,226 other Rhode Islanders. The card turned his case into a precedent-setting one, in which his lawyer is trying to convince prosecutors to drop the marijuana charge from last summer — and additional probation violation charges — on grounds he is now a legal user of the illegal drug. The case has focused attention on the rules of the state's Rhode Island's four-year-old medical marijuana program at a time when a Senate commission is exploring whether to simply decriminalize marijuana.