Rhode Island has become the newest state to legalize adult-use marijuana. Following a majority vote of legislators in both the state’s House of Representatives and Senate, the marijuana legalization bill was signed Wednesday afternoon by Governor Dan McKee. As expected, based on his previous vocal support for legalization, Gov. McKee signed the measure into law. As a result, Rhode Island, the smallest state in the U.S., has become the 19th to have a legal recreational market.
Highlights of the measure’s provisions are as follows:
*It will allow adults to possess and purchase up to one ounce of cannabis and cultivate up to three cannabis plants at home;
*Direct the Rhode Island Judiciary to automatically clear past convictions for cannabis convictions by July 2024;
*Create a cannabis retail excise tax of 10%, in addition to the normal sales tax rate of 7%, with another 3% local sales tax;
*Reserve a quarter of all new retail cannabis licenses for applicants that qualify as social equity businesses while another quarter of new licenses will be awarded to worker-owned cooperatives; and
*Establish a social equity assistance fund to provide grants, job training programs, and social services for communities disproportionately impacted by cannabis criminalization.
Jared Moffat, state campaigns manager for the Marijuana Policy Project, a nonprofit focused on cannabis policy reform, applauded Rhode Island lawmakers for the measure.
“We are grateful to Rep. Scott Slater and Sen. Josh Miller for their years of leadership on this issue,” he said in a public statement. “Rhode Islanders should be proud of their lawmakers for passing a legalization bill that features strong provisions to promote equity and social justice.”
According to a report in The Providence Journal that was written prior to Gov. McKee signing the measure, the news outlet noted that adult-use sale would begin on December 1, 2022.