Rhode Island Cannabis Program Overview

Rhode Island Cannabis Program Overview

JUNE 10TH, 2024


Adult Use Marijuana Program Overview

Rhode Island took a significant step on May 25, 2022, by legalizing adult-use marijuana through bill H7593. This legislation paves the way for controlled and regulated sales and consumption of adult-use marijuana within the state. It establishes a comprehensive regulatory framework covering cultivation, production, and sales.

Types of Adult-Use Marijuana Businesses

  1. Cultivation Licenses: These licenses allow for the cultivation, processing, and packaging of cannabis. Additionally, holders can deliver cannabis to cannabis establishments and transfer it to other licensed facilities. Currently, there is a moratorium on new cultivator licenses until two years following the finalization of the commission’s rules and regulations.
  2. Manufacturing Licenses: Manufacturers can acquire, process, and package cannabis and cannabis products. They can also deliver these products to cannabis establishments and transfer them to other licensed facilities.
  3. Retail Licenses: Retailers are authorized to purchase cannabis and cannabis products from other cannabis establishments and sell them to consumers. The state has provisions for twenty-four retail licenses, distributed across specific geographic zones, with restrictions to ensure equitable distribution.
  4. Testing Laboratory License: Third-party testing laboratories are licensed to collect and test samples of cannabis and cannabis products. These labs must be financially independent from any cannabis establishment they test for and meet specific qualifications outlined by the commission.

Social Equity Applicants

Rhode Island’s legislation prioritizes social equity applicants, defined as individuals disproportionately impacted by past marijuana laws. These applicants receive financial assistance and support for license applications. To qualify, individuals must meet certain criteria related to residency, criminal history, economic status, and experience promoting economic empowerment in impacted areas.

Medical Marijuana Program Overview

Rhode Island legalized medical cannabis in 2006 through Senate Bill 710. This legislation provided a legal pathway for qualifying patients to access and use medical cannabis as a treatment option. The program allows for the establishment of compassion centers, which serve registered qualifying patients and their caregivers.

Rhode Island Medical Marijuana Compassion Center

Compassion centers are authorized to acquire, possess, cultivate, manufacture, and dispense medical marijuana to registered patients and caregivers. Currently, there are three operating licensed compassion centers, with six additional licenses available.

Rhode Island Medical Marijuana Cultivator

Cultivators are permitted to acquire, possess, manufacture, cultivate, and transfer medical marijuana to licensed compassion centers and other cultivators. The state has already awarded 74 cultivator licenses and is not accepting new applications.

Program Timeline

  • 2006: Rhode Island legalized medical cannabis.
  • 2013: First medical cannabis businesses opened.
  • 2020: State began accepting applications for additional compassion centers.
  • May 25, 2022: Rhode Island legalized recreational cannabis.
  • TBD: State to award 24 retail licenses.

This progressive legislation reflects Rhode Island’s commitment to expanding access to cannabis while addressing past inequities and ensuring regulatory oversight. With both medical and adult-use programs in place, Rhode Island is poised to emerge as a leader in the evolving cannabis industry.


Are you interested in obtaining a cannabis business license in Rhode Island? Call us to speak with an industry expert at 602-290-9424.

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