Rhode Island became the 19th state to legalize cannabis. Beginning on May 25, adults who are at least 21 can legally possess up to one ounce of marijuana and cultivate up to three cannabis plants in a private residence.
This new law liberalizes the state’s drug laws and possibly reduces cases where a criminal defense is required. Within certain limits, adults can purchase and possess marijuana.
Adults may purchase and possess no more than one ounce of cannabis and grow up to six plants, limited to three mature plants, for personal use. The possession limit for marijuana stored at a household is a maximum 10 ounces.
For adults who are at least 18, possession of between one and two ounces is decriminalized and punishable only by a fine. Fees for medical cannabis plant tags and patient IDS are removed after adult sales start.
By July 1, 2024, Rhode Island will automatically expunge earlier conviction records for possession of amounts of marijuana that are now legal. Anyone who petitions courts for relief will have their cases expedited.
Possession and cultivation were allowed immediately if adults met the law’s security requirements. The first retail establishments for recreational marijuana will not open until December 1, 2022, at the earliest. Starting on August 1, 2022, anyone with an approved hybrid license can begin growing and manufacturing marijuana for adult consumers.
The state will initially license 33 marijuana retailers. Twenty-four licensed retailers will be stand-alone adult-use stores allocated between six geographic zones in Rhode Island. Nine other hybrid licenses may be approved for existing medical cannabis dispensers if they pay a $125,000 fee for adding recreational sales.
Local governments, through voter referendums, can opt of permitting marijuana retailers unless they currently have medical cannabis compassion centers in their jurisdiction. They can also impose their own rules on public consumption by enacting ordinances.
Rhode Island’s 7% sales tax along with a 10% excise tax and a 3% tax for municipalities allowing the operation of cannabis businesses will apply to adult-use marijuana sales.
A new and independent Cannabis Control Commission and an administrative Cannabis Office have regulatory responsibilities along with a new advisory board. Regulators, among other powers, will set limits on cannabis product serving sizes, doses, and THC potency limits for each type of cannabis product sold, cannabis concentrates and edible products.
New laws often cause confusion. Attorneys can help assure that rights are protected and that anyone arrested for drug offenses is defended.