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Cannabis has been legal for medical use in Rhode Island since 2006. However, the state maintains a strict regulatory environment and some of the most serious criminal penalties for illegal recreational use, particularly when it comes to large quantities. The state has operated a medical cannabis dispensary system since 2009.
In Rhode Island, medical marijuana use is restricted to residents with approved qualifying medical conditions. These include cancer, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, and a handful of diseases that cause chronic pain or muscle spasms.
Yes. Rhode Island calls its cannabis dispensaries compassion centers, and strictly regulates their activities. The state requires dispensary owners to apply for a license, and grants licenses on a case-by-case basis.
The Rhode Island Department of Health manages cannabis licenses for the state’s dispensary network. The state’s Director of Health runs the agency under the Department of State.
Dispensary owners who wish to apply for a Rhode Island cannabis license must apply during one of the state’s open enrollment periods. As of 2019, the state is not accepting new applications. Cannabis industry entrepreneurs must acquire an existing license-holding dispensary in order to obtain a cannabis license in Rhode Island.
Rhode Island requires dispensaries to operate as not-for-profit organizations. Dispensary applications must demonstrate the applicant’s ability to run a medical clinic in a highly regulated industry. Rhode Island requires applicants to submit to background checks and showcase their ability to keep cannabis products secure from diversion towards the black market.
Rhode Island dispensaries must pay a non-refundable $5,000 application fee. If the Department of Health accepts the application, the applicant must pay an additional certification fee of between $20,000 and $80,000, depending on the size of the proposed dispensary and whether it also cultivates its own cannabis.
Yes. Rhode Island charges dispensaries a $250,000 fee to renew their cannabis license. This sum is due within 30 days of the renewal application submission.
Rhode Island offers four types of cannabis dispensary licenses. All of these licenses allow dispensary owners to sell cannabis products to qualified patients. They differ in the amount of cannabis the dispensary is allowed to possess, sell, and in some cases, cultivate.
Rhode Island isn’t issuing retail licenses as of February 2019. The state operates three compassion centers and has no plans to implement an open enrollment period for new licenses. State law stipulates that Rhode Island dispensaries will receive their licenses within 100 days of applying.
Yes. Rhode Island will accept applications from dispensary owners if one of the state’s dispensaries close down or cease operations. If the state passess legislation for recreational marijuana, it is likely that dispensary owners will be in an advantageous position when applying for recreational cannabis licensing.
Medical marijuana dispensaries must be located at least 1,000 feet away from public and private schools.
There is no state law requiring cannabis-related event organizers to apply for event permits in Rhode Island. These types of events happen regularly in the state and are generally open exclusively to licensed medical marijuana patients.
No. There is no need for cannabis event organizers to apply for special licensing to hold cannabis events.
There is no state law preventing a cannabis dispensary from hosting or organizing a cannabis-related event. Dispensaries may host educational and business events appropriate to any prescription medication
Rhode Island strictly enforces its regulatory framework. Dispensary owners who wish to open a dispensary in the state should appoint a compliance officer who is familiar with the state’s medical marijuana program and implement point-of-sale solutions for seed-to-sale tracking and logistics.
Rhode Island dispensaries must include a security alarm system and an access control solution. Dispensaries must provide employees with security, safety, and crime-prevention training. Unlike many other states, Rhode Island does not require its dispensaries to deploy video surveillance systems.
Rhode Island does not prohibit its dispensaries from packaging and labeling cannabis at the dispensary location. All cannabis products must be labeled with the strain, batch number, and quantity of marijuana contained, as well as a statement stipulating that the product is intended for medical use and not for resale.
No. Rhode Island stipulates that cannabis dispensaries can only sell cannabis products and cannabis-related products in the dispensary. The state will not grant a tobacco or alcohol license to nay cannabis dispensary.
Yes. Rhode Island law provides a framework for dispensary owners to cultivate their own cannabis plants and vertically integrate their businesses. This requires applying for a more expensive cannabis license, but the annual fee does is the same for all license holders, effectively incentivizing large-scale, integrated businesses.
Yes. Rhode Island law specifically protects dispensaries “selling, giving, or distributing marijuana in whatever form” from prosecution within the limits established by its medical marijuana program.
Cannabis dispensaries in Rhode Island are free to implement their own operating hours. The state does not impose limits on the number of hours dispensaries must be open per week.
Yes. There are no specific advertising regulations for cannabis dispensaries in Rhode Island. Any public-facing display in accordance with prescription drug laws is permitted.
Rhode Island law does not stipulate a minimum age for qualifying patients. Minors who have been diagnosed with debilitating medical conditions are eligible to obtain medical marijuana cards and to purchase cannabis products.
Cannabis retailers must implement sophisticated batch tracking solutions and generate reports for the movement of their cannabis products throughout the product life cycle. The state requires dispensaries to implement comprehensive seed-to-sale recordkeeping solutions for every individual plant grown in the state.