The Bill

The Rhode Island Cannabis Regulation, Control, and Taxation Act

The Cannabis Regulation, Control, and Taxation Act (read the full bill here) would replace Rhode Island’s existing policy of cannabis prohibition and permit adults (21 or older) to possess and purchase limited amounts of cannabis. It would establish the Office of Cannabis Coordination within the executive branch to oversee the creation of a legal cannabis market that will replace illicit cannabis dealers with strictly regulated, tax paying businesses. 

Limited personal possession and home cultivation

  • Adults 21 or older are permitted to possess up to one ounce of cannabis and infused cannabis products containing no more than a total of 300 mg of THC. 
  • Limited home cultivation is permitted, with no more than one mature cannabis plant per individual and no more than three mature cannabis plants in a single residence. Individuals may also possess up to five ounces of cannabis at home. All plants must have a unique identifier tag issued by the Department of Business Regulation. 

Regulatory structure

  • The Cannabis Regulation, Control, and Taxation Act establishes the Office of Cannabis Coordination under the authority of the governor to implement the law, promulgate regulations, and oversee all aspects of the legal cannabis market. The Office of Cannabis Coordination will facilitate cooperation among local officials, state agencies, and the General Assembly.
  • A Cannabis Advisory Board, comprised of law enforcement officials, public health experts, and other stakeholders, will be established to: study issues related to cannabis regulation; inform the Office of Cannabis Coordination of potential issues and recommend reforms; and facilitate hearings to allow for public testimony and input.
  • Working closely with the Office of Cannabis Coordination, the Department of Business Regulation and Department of Health will have authority to issue four kinds of cannabis business registrations: at least 25 cultivation facilities, at least 40 retailers, at least 20 processors (permitted to create infused cannabis products such as oils, edibles, and tinctures), and at least 10 testing facilities.
  • All cannabis establishments must maintain a “seed-to-sale” tracking system to allow regulators to closely monitor inventory.
  • All cannabis products must be laboratory tested to measure potency and check for harmful contaminants. 
  • To prevent the sale of products that are appealing to children, all edible cannabis product lines must undergo a review process and require approval from the Office of Cannabis Coordination before being permitted for sale. Individual edible products may not contain more than one serving of THC.
  • All aspects of advertising, labeling, and packaging of cannabis products will be strictly regulated to minimize availability and exposure to youth.

Taxes and fees

  • Cannabis products are subject to a 23% retail excise tax in addition to the normal 7% sales tax.
  • Cannabis businesses are required to submit application fees (not to exceed $5,000) and annual registration fees (not to exceed $20,000 for cultivation facilities and not to exceed $10,000 for retailers, processors, and testing facilities) to cover the costs of regulating the program.
  • Adults who choose to cultivate cannabis at home must purchase a unique identifier tag issued by the department of business regulation for each plant, with a fee not to exceed $50.
  • After covering all costs associated with the implementation and regulation of the law, 50% of cannabis revenue will be deposited into the state general fund, 10% will be distributed to the localities (proportional to the number of cannabis businesses located within the town or city), 5% will provide funding to law enforcement officials to enforce laws against impaired driving, and 35% will be given to the Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities and Hospitals to distribute to programs and agencies for substance use disorder treatment services and youth substance use prevention programs.

Local control

  • Municipalities are allowed to impose any additional regulations, fines, or penalties on cannabis businesses that violate local ordinances, provided they do not conflict with provisions of the law or regulations promulgated by state agencies.
  • Through a simple majority referendum, voters in municipalities may choose to prohibit any class of cannabis establishment from operating within their city or town.

What the Cannabis Regulation, Control, and Taxation Act does not do:

  • Allow anyone to smoke cannabis in public. 
  • Make it legal to drive under the influence of cannabis.
  • Force employers to accommodate cannabis use or change existing drug testing policies.
  • Allow individuals to manufacture cannabis products with the use of dangerous solvents such as butane.