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The Legal Status of Cannabis in Rhode Island

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Rhode Island signed medical marijuana into law in 2006, becoming the 11th state to have a legal medical cannabis program. This legislation (House Bill 6052) was passed in 2005 by a 52-10 state house vote and a 33-1 state senate vote. Though the Governor Don Carcieri who was a republican vetoed this legislation, it was overridden by the Legislature.

A cannabis dispensary system was introduced in Rhode Island in June 2009, qualifying them as the second state after California to take this route nationwide. By October of  2016, 15,470 patients had qualified to enter the program and 3 dispensaries had been established, which were also allowed to grow their own marijuana to meet their client’s medical needs.

In Rhode Island, the “Approved Qualifying Debilitating Medical Conditions” for medical cannabis are:

  • Cancer
  • Glaucoma
  • HIV / AIDS
  • Hepatitis C
  • Cachexia syndrome
  • Severe chronic pain
  • Severe nausea
  • Seizures
  • Severe muscle spasms
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • PTSD
  • Autism Spectrum

Rhode Island permits visiting qualifying medical cannabis patients holding a valid medical marijuana identification card from a different state to purchase medical marijuana within the state.

Though cannabis for recreational use is not yet legal in Rhode Island, legislators and law makers are working round the clock to find a way to make this happen.

Apart from meeting the needs of its citizens, legalizing marijuana for recreational use has great financial gains to the state in the form of tax collections. The legalization of recreational marijuana will mean that the state can tap into this revenue collection stream and raise meaningful revenue from a trade that is thriving in the “black market”.

Many other states have found that the legalization of cannabis for adult use panned out to be a wise investment. For example in Colorado and Washington where legal sales commenced in 2014, the new revenue streams have been used to fund important programs and services and bolster budgets. As of March 2022, the combined total tax revenue collected in the states has been $11.2 billion for recreational cannabis sales.

This is as good reason as any for states like Rhode Island to legalize and tax the recreational cannabis market.

Lydia K. (Bsc. RN) is a cannabis writer, which, considering where you’re reading this, makes perfect sense. Currently, she is a regular writer for Mace Media. In the past, she has written for MyBud, RX Leaf & Dine Magazine (Canada), CBDShopy (UK) and Cannavalate & Pharmadiol (Australia). She is best known for writing epic news articles and medical pieces. Occasionally, she deviates from news and science and creates humorous articles. And boy doesn't she love that! She equally enjoys ice cream, as should all right-thinking people.