Rhode Island announced Wednesday that it would be the 19th state to legalize and regulate adult-use cannabis. Democratic Governor Dan McKee signed the Rhode Island Cannabis Act (RICA) into law, according to a press release on his website.
Possession and Home Grow
The RICA allows Rhode Islanders age 21 and over to possess up to one ounce in public or up to 10 ounces at home. Home cultivation of up to six plants will also be permissible, but no more than three mature plants.
Limited amounts of cannabis will be available for purchase at 33 retail cannabis dispensaries allowed to operate within the state.
The state’s existing medical cannabis providers will be able to apply for licenses to sell adult-use cannabis.
Duane Boise, President of MMJ BioPharma Companies, which currently operates a DEA Analytical lab in Rhode Island for Schedule One through Four drugs with a primary focus on cannabis research and development, said, “Although we are not in the adult-use cannabis business, we are pleased to see this progress in the State of Rhode Island. The state legalization puts our analytical lab in a perfect position to assist the state in assuring that consumers are receiving quality and safe products.”
The RICA includes automatic expungement of prior civil or criminal cannabis possession charges and convictions, cited as a “key provision” in the Governor’s original cannabis proposal to the General Assembly.
The new law will give courts until July 1, 2024, to automatically expunge past convictions. However, those who want their expungement to occur sooner may request it.
Additionally, social equity preferences were cited as a primary component of the Governor’s bill. “The legislation makes numerous investments in the creation of an equitable, accessible cannabis retail market through the set-aside of certain application fee revenues and the reservation of a portion of new licenses for social equity applicants and worker-owned cooperatives,” according to the Governor’s release.
“This bill successfully incorporates our priorities of making sure cannabis legalization is equitable, controlled, and safe,” said Governor McKee.
“In addition, it creates a process for the automatic expungement of past cannabis convictions. My Administration’s original legalization plan also included such a provision, and I am thrilled that the Assembly recognized the importance of this particular issue. The result is a win for our state both socially and economically.”
Sales are expected to begin by December. The taxes on legal cannabis are high, sitting at 20%. The division of the tariffs will be a seven percent sales tax, a new ten percent cannabis tax, and a three percent tax by the municipality where cannabis is being sold.