Rhode Island Legalizes Recreational Cannabis
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Rhode Island has become the 19th state in the US to legalize recreational cannabis.
State Governor Dan McKee signed the Rhode Island Cannabis Act in the afternoon of May 25 after the bill successfully made its way through the state’s House and Senate.
Legal sales are expected to begin this December.
A recreational Rhode Island
“Today I signed the Rhode Island Cannabis Act, legalizing and safely regulating cannabis in our state,” Governor McKee said in a Twitter statement following the signing of the new bill.
Under the new bill, adults aged 21 and over will be able to purchase up to one ounce of cannabis at a time, possess up to 10 ounces at home, possess up to five grams of concentrates, and cultivate up to three mature plants at home, along with three immature plants.
With regards to licensing, the existing medical cannabis retailers in the state will be given first priority. These businesses will be able to pay a fee to acquire a hybrid license and sell recreational products by December. Up to 24 new recreational retailers will also be permitted within four of the six geographic regions in the state, according to a bill summary from the Marijuana Policy Project.
The bill includes a number of social equity policies, including an expungement process for those with criminal convictions for cannabis possession; individuals should be able to apply for an expungement by July 2024. At least one retail license in all the state’s six geographic zones must be awarded to a social equity applicant and another must be awarded to a business that is organized as “a worker-owned cooperative”.
All fees from recreational cannabis businesses will also be deposited into the social equity assistance fund, which will help fund social equity applicants in the industry.
19 down, 31 to go
The signing of the new bill makes Rhode Island the 19th US state to legalize recreational cannabis sales. The region also becomes the fifth in New England to legislate such a legal cannabis market; only New Hampshire now continues to prohibit adult-use marijuana out of the six north-east states.
The bill made its way through the Rhode Island House and Senate in recent months before being signed by the governor. It cleared the House with an amendment by a vote of 55 to 16, and passed through the Senate with 32 votes to 6.