Rhode Island Cannabis Business Licenses
WHAT IS RHODE ISLAND’S CURRENT CANNABIS MARKET STATUS?
Content Below Last Updated by Point7 04/10/2022
In early March 2022 two identical bills, Senate Bill 2430 and House Bill 7593, were introduced to legalize, regulate, and tax cannabis for adult-use in Rhode Island.
These two bills are also known as the Rhode Island Cannabis Act and were introduced by both Sen. Josh Miller and Rep. Scott Slater. These bills, if passed, will allow adults 21 and older to purchase up to one ounce of cannabis and possess up to 10 ounces of cannabis in their home. Rhode Islanders would also be allowed to possess up to five grams of cannabis concentrate, gift up to one ounce of cannabis to another adult, and cultivate up to three plants in their residence. The legislation also establishes a process for individuals to expunge their prior misdemeanor or felony convictions for cannabis possession.
If the legislation is approved, the state will issue cannabis cultivator licenses for two years following the final issuance of the rules and regulations. Existing medical cannabis cultivators will be granted a license to produce adult-use cannabis so long as they comply with introduced adult use regulations. In October 2022 existing medical cannabis compassion centers will have the opportunity to obtain a hybrid license to operate in the adult-use market by paying a $125,000 fee. In addition to the hybrid retailers, the Office of Cannabis Regulation will license another 24 retail businesses, with four in six different geographical regions in Rhode Island.
The Senate Judiciary Committee and House Finance Committee both held public hearings on these legalization proposals throughout March 2022. Meanwhile, the Rhode Island Department of Health has issued a preliminary application for Sampling and Testing laboratories for the Medical Cannabis program. More information on Testing Licensing can be found here
WHAT ARE RHODE ISLAND CURRENT CANNABIS LAWS?
In Rhode Island adults can possess up to one ounce or less of cannabis product. If caught, there is a small civil penalty of $150 for the first offense if the individual possesses cannabis product greater than one ounce. If an adult carries less than one ounce, there is no penalty. If an individual receives more than three citations within an 18 month period, they may be charged with a misdemeanor. If the individual is a minor under the age of 18, they have to appear in a family court and be evaluated for substance use disorder in addition to paying the $150 fine.
In Rhode Island, medical cannabis has been legal since 2009, therefore an individual may register as a medical patient if their certified physician states that they suffer from one (or more) of qualifying conditions, such as: cancer, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), glaucoma, positive status for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), hepatitis C, or autism.
Once a medical patient is registered, they can cultivate up to 12 non-flowering cannabis and 12 flowering plants within their main residence. Each plant must have a valid tag issued by the Rhode Island Department of Business Regulation. Medical patients or a designated caregiver are also allowed to purchase cannabis products from dispensaries known as compassion centers. Caregivers may also cultivate cannabis products on the medical patients behalf.
WHAT IS RHODE ISLAND'S CANNABIS LICENSING TIMELINE & CANNABIS APPLICATION PROCESS?
The Application window for Rhode Island Compassion centers is currently closed.
WHAT IS THE HISTORY OF CANNABIS IN RHODE ISLAND?
In 2006, Governor Donald Carcieri vetoed the Edward O. Hawkins and Thomas C. Slater Medical Marijuana Act, but was overridden by the Rhode Island General Assembly. This action ended the prohibition of Cannabis in Rhode Island.
Cannabis was decriminalized in 2012, which lowered cannabis possession to a civil penalty and decriminalization took effect a year later in 2013. Although decriminalization was a positive step in the right direction for Rhode Island, the state continues to fight for full legalization, which is backed by Governor Gina Raimondo. Legalization was presented in Gov. Raimondo’s annual budget bills in both 2020 and 2019. Two identical bills were introduced in the March 2022 legislative session to legalize, regulate, and tax cannabis for adults 21 and older.
Rhode Island's Medical Cannabis program remains relatively small with only roughly 20,000 registered patients. The state is home to only three Compassion centers who collectively sold $59.7 million worth of cannabis products in 2019. In 2019 the Governor signed a budget tripling the number of compassion centers from three to nine.
DOES RHODE ISLAND HAVE A HEMP PROGRAM?
PREPARING FOR THE RHODE ISLAND CANNABIS MARKET
We are ready to support your team as you prepare for cannabis licensure in Rhode Island. Contact Point7 to discuss the fully customizable products and service packages available that have proved successful for operators around the country.