Medical Marijuana in Rhode Island
The State of Rhode Island began its marijuana legalization early when the Edward O. Hawkins and Thomas C. Slater Medical Marijuana Act was enacted in 2006. Under the terms of this Act, in-state patients were allowed to use, possess up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis, and cultivate up to 12 plants. In 2009, the Rhode Island Department of Health was granted the authority to license no-for-profit Compassion Centers to retail medical cannabis. Unfortunately, the State of Rhode Island failed to provide any licensed retail access for nearly 7 years!
By 2011, Governor Chafee faced additional obstacles when he was forced to suspend licensing in response to federal pressure. Fortunately, with additional licensing regulations, Rhode Island was able to open the doors of their Compassion Centers by 2013 to qualified patients. From 2014 to 2016, the state of Rhode Island approved various legislations, including allowing patients and caregivers to sell excess medical cannabis to Compassion Centers. Further, Rhode Island helped create protections for patient employee rights under the Rhode Island Supreme Court case, Callaghan v. Darlington Fabrics Co., et al.
After reforming its medical cannabis program throughout 2016, Rhode Island further approved their medical cannabis program by allowing reciprocity access to out-of-state patients and adding autism spectrum disorder as an additional qualifying condition. During the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic, Rhode Island worked in expanding its program by authorizing curbside pickup and delivery, as well as adding telehealth evaluations for patients.
Recreational Marijuana in Rhode Island
In 2022, Rhode Island became the 19th state to legalize adult-use marijuana when Governor Dan Mckee signed Rhode Island Cannabis Act into law. Under the new law, possession and home cultivation of cannabis became legal for all adults aged 21 and over. Further, the Act authorized automatic expungement of prior civil or criminal marijuana possession charges.
Types of Licenses
- Compassion Centers
- Hybrid Licensing
- Product Manufacturer or Wholesaler
- Retail Sales
- Testing Laboratories
- Hybrid Licensing Applications (Exclusive) OPEN NOW
- Retail Sales Application Est. Late 2023–Early 2024
- Not expected to open doors as late as 2025
Upcoming Marijuana Business Applications
In the near future, the state of Rhode Island will begin accepting application for an additional twenty-four (24) Retail Sales licenses. Under Rhode Island law, there will only be four (4) Retail Licensees permitted in each of the designated “geographic regions,” with two (2) being reserved for one (1) workers’ cooperative applicant and one (1) social equity applicant.
General Application Requirements:
- No Residency Requirement
- 21 years or older
- Criminal Background Check
- Taxation Compliance
- 25% of New Retail licenses reserved for Social Equity Applicants & Workers’ Cooperative Applicants
- Labor Peace Agreement for Retail Sales applicants
As the demand by licensed cultivators continues to push the Commission into releasing an application to license more Retail Sales entities, there will be an open application process for Adult-Use Marijuana Business Licenses in Rhode Island in the near future. Now is the time to get started with your comprehensive and strategic business plan! Contact one of our consultants to further discuss your options here.
Last Updated: June 29th, 2023