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.
- Hybrid Applications Period: August 1st – October 15th
- Adult-Use Sales Expected to Begin: December 2022
- Predicted Additional Dispensary Application to Open: Late 2022 – Early 2023
Upcoming Marijuana Business Applications
Currently, the State of Rhode Island is permitting licensed medical marijuana cultivators to cultivate, manufacture, and process for both the medical and adult-use marketplace, so long as they pay additional fees. In addition, licensed Compassion Centers are permitted to apply for a Hybrid Retail license to enter into the adult-use market as dispensaries, so long as they pay additional fees.
Once the moratorium is lifted, the state of Rhode Island will begin accepting application for the following cannabis business licenses:
- Product Manufacturer
- Testing Laboratory
General Application Requirements:
- Rhode Island Residency
- 21 years or older
- Criminal Background Check
- Taxation Compliance
- 25% of New Retail licenses reserved for Social Equity Applicants
- Labor Peace Agreement for Retailers
In the near future, there will be an open application process for Adult-Use Marijuana Business Licenses in Rhode Island. 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.