Adults in Rhode Island will be able to legally purchase marijuana starting next week.
The state announced on Tuesday that recreational cannabis sales will kick off there on December 1.
“This milestone is the result of a carefully executed process to ensure that our state’s entry into this emerging market was done in a safe, controlled and equitable manner,” Rhode Island Gov. Dan McKee said in a statement. “It is also a win for our statewide economy and our strong, locally based cannabis supply chain, which consists of nearly 70 licensed cultivators, processors and manufacturers in addition to our licensed compassion centers. Finally, I thank the leadership of the General Assembly for passing this practical implementation framework in the Rhode Island Cannabis Act and I look forward to continuing our work together on this issue.”
McKee, a Democrat, signed the Rhode Island Cannabis Act into law in May after members of the state General Assembly passed the bill.
The governor said at the time that the legislation “successfully incorporates our priorities of making sure cannabis legalization is equitable, controlled, and safe.”
“In addition, it creates a process for the automatic expungement of past cannabis convictions. My Administration’s original legalization plan also included such a provision and I am thrilled that the Assembly recognized the importance of this particular issue. The end result is a win for our state both socially and economically,” McKee said in a statement at the time.
Per the release from McKee’s office in May, the measure “calls for a 20 percent tax rate, split up into the 7 percent sales tax, a new 10 percent cannabis tax, and a 3 percent tax by the municipality where the marijuana is sold,” while also making “numerous investments in the creation of an equitable, accessible cannabis retail market through the set-aside of certain application fee revenues and the reservation of a portion of new licenses for social equity applicants and worker-owned cooperatives.”
The sponsor of the bill, Democratic state Rep. Scott A. Slater, said at the time that the legislation’s “social equity” component was one of the most important considerations for lawmakers, noting that he represents “some of the communities that have suffered disproportionate harm from prohibition for decades, resulting in generational poverty and mass incarceration.”
“The starting line isn’t the same for people in poor, urban and minority communities, and they deserve support to ensure they get the full benefit of participating in legalization. I am grateful to my colleagues in the General Assembly for recognizing the importance of expungement of criminal records and equity in licensing, because they are absolutely critical to ending prohibition fairly,” Slater said.
In the press release on Tuesday, McKee’s office said that five medical cannabis businesses have been awarded licenses to begin adult-use marijuana sales: Aura of Rhode Island (Central Falls); Thomas C. Slater Center (Providence); Mother Earth Wellness (Pawtucket); Greenleaf Compassionate Care Center (Portsmouth); and RISE Warwick (Warwick).
“We were pleased with the quality and comprehensiveness of the applications we received from the state’s compassion centers, and we are proud to launch adult use sales in Rhode Island just six months after the Cannabis Act was signed into law, marking the Northeast’s fastest implementation period,” said Matt Santacroce, who is serving as interim deputy director of the Rhode Island Department of Business Regulation. “We look forward to continuing to work with the state’s cannabis business community to ensure this critical economic sector scales in compliance with the rules and regulations put forward by state regulators.”