The cannabis laws in Rhode Island have been changed over the years for the benefit of medical patients. This state was the 11th state to make medical marijuana legal for use and continues to provide good grounds for medical marijuana patients.
Even for recreational use, while marijuana is not fully legal, it is allowed to possess small amounts for personal use without it being considered as a criminal act. Even though small amounts of marijuana are decriminalized and serious punishments are not on the table, it is still considered a civil violation and small fines might be applicable.
We will take a look at how the current cannabis laws in Rhode Island are and how they have been changed over the years.
History of Cannabis Laws in Rhode Island
The medical marijuana legalization was set in motion in 2005. In February of that year, the Medical Marijuana Act also known by the code name S0710 was introduced which started shaping today’s cannabis laws.
The bill was passed on 28th June 2005, however, it was vetoed the next day by Governor Donald Carcieri from the Republican Party. However, not long after on 3rd January 2016, the House overturned the governor’s veto, making this state the 11th state which legalized marijuana for medical purposes. The cannabis laws in Rhode Island were also shaped to allow possession of small amounts of marijuana for personal use and even though that still meant the person caught with it would make civil violation, it was no longer regarded as a criminal act.
According to the Cannabis Laws in Rhode Island, the Department of Health is in charge of the Medical Marijuana Program of the state. This department is responsible for reviewing and approving applications from qualifying patients and caregivers.
The Rhode Island Department of Business Regulation is overseeing the licensing for cultivators. There is also a medical marijuana plant tracking system in place that this department is responsible for.
Medical Marijuana Rhode Island via Green Rush Daily
Where Can You Buy Medical Marijuana in Rhode Island?
According to the cannabis laws in Rhode Island, the patients, their caregivers or authorized purchasers can buy medical marijuana from one of the compassion centers. They are not called dispensaries in this state. Every patient is entitled to appoint one caregiver and one purchaser if they are unable to go to a compassion center and buy the medical cannabis themselves.
The purchasing limits in Rhode Island are set to 22. ounces or around 70 grams every 15 days. Caregivers and purchasers who are allowed to buy cannabis on the behalf of the qualifying patient are allowed to transport the cannabis, yet commercial delivery services of medical marijuana are not available.
For medical marijuana purchases, the patients are not paying any exercise, use or sale tax.
Where can You Consume Medical Marijuana in Rhode Island?
According to the cannabis laws in Rhode Island, marijuana consumption has to be done at a private property. This is especially true when it comes to schoolyards and places of worship. Driving under the influence is not allowed and it also extends to riding a bicycle as well. Consuming cannabis in a parked vehicle is not allowed both for the driver and the passengers. When transporting cannabis, it needs to be stored in a non-transparent sealed container and to be kept away from reach.
Driving under the influence of marijuana is forbidden and it can result in 6 months suspension of the driver’s licence.
Possession and Cultivation of Cannabis in Rhode Island
According to the cannabis laws in Rhode Island, only patients and caregivers can legally possess cannabis. While small amounts of marijuana for recreational use will not lead in a criminal conviction, if caught it will still be considered a civil violation and fines will apply.
Possession of over 1 ounce and less than 1 kilogram is regarded as a misdemeanor and it is punishable by 1 year in prison and $500 in fines. Possession over 1 kilogram is considered as possession with the intent to sell and it is classified as a felony. Illegal cultivation is also regarded as a felony and charges differ depending on the amount the person was caught in possession with or the amount they were cultivation. Some of the penalties go up to 50 years in prison or even life sentences with mandatory 20 years behind bars for possession of over 5 kilograms of marijuana with the intention to sell.
All patients and caregivers need to be registered with the Rhode Island Department of Health’s Medical Marijuana Program. They also need to be holders of valid medical marijuana identification cards.
Cannabis Dispensary Rhode Island via OCC Newspaper
Patients are allowed to grow their own medical marijuana according to the cannabis laws in Rhode Island. The limit is set at 12 mature plants and 12 seedlings. However, in order to be legally able to grow your own medical marijuana, you would need to be registered with the Department of Health and enclose the address where the cultivation will take place. The law also requires each plant to have a marijuana plant tags. Such tags are sold in pairs for labeling one mature and one immature plant and they come at the price of $25.
As for primary caregivers, the cannabis laws in Rhode Island allow for them to be able to grow medical cannabis for a maximum of 5 patients. They can have 24 mature plants and 24 seedlings at a time. It is worth noting that during the application, the patient must point out if they will be growing their own medical marijuana themselves or if a caregiver will do them for them. As of the beginning of this year, it is no longer allowed for a caregiver to grow cannabis for their patient if the patient is doing that themselves as well.
Medical cannabis cooperative cultivation is another option that the cannabis laws in Rhode Island allow. Registered patients and caregivers can grow cannabis in a residential or non-residential facility. Residential facility growing in limited at 24 mature plants and 24 seedlings while non-residential cultivation limits go up to 48 mature plants and 48 seedlings. The amount of usable dried cannabis, edibles or concentrates is limited to 10 ounces for both residential and non-residential cultivating facilities plus the total amount that it is allowed by law for the number of patients registered at the facility.
Cannabis Home Cultivation Rhode Island via High Times
How to Register as a Medical Marijuana Patient in Rhode Island?
All medical marijuana identification cards are given out by the Rhode Island’s Department of Health. They are responsible not only for the identification cards but also for monitoring all of the purchases done by both qualifying patients and caregivers.
In order to qualify as a medical marijuana patient, the person needs to have a written certification from a physician stating the needs for such treatment. Persons under the age of 18 are entitled to medical marijuana yet a parent or a legal guardian must be appointed as the primary caregiver.
As for caregivers, the person needs to be over the age of 21 in order to be able to purchase or grow medical marijuana on behalf of their patient. All caregivers need to submit a proof of residency and have a full background check according to the cannabis laws in Rhode Island.
In Rhode Island, patients are also allowed to point out an authorized purchaser who will be able to buy and deliver medical cannabis. The rules for authorized purchasers are similar as those for caregivers – they need to be at least 21 years old and pass a criminal background check, however, they are not required to be permanent residents of Rhode Island.
The application for a medical marijuana identity card is available online, however, the application and the supporting documents need to be sent via post to the Department of Health. All cards are valid for 1 year and they need to be renewed 60 days before expiring.
According to the cannabis laws in Rhode Island, the following conditions are considered as qualifying:
- Cachexia, or wasting syndrome
- Cancer or cancer treatment including chemotherapy and radiation therapy
- Glaucoma or glaucoma treatment
- Hepatitis C or treatment for hepatitis C
- Seizures, including but not limited to those characteristics of epilepsy
- Severe, debilitating, or chronic pain
- Severe nausea
- Severe and persistent muscle spasms
- Multiple sclerosis
- Crohn’s disease
- Agitation related to Alzheimer’s disease
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
Cannabis Cultivation Rhode Island via MV Times
To start the application process, the person first needs to obtain a written certification from a physician recommending medical marijuana as a part of their treatment. The medical marijuana patient registration can be found online, yet it needs to be filled in and sent to the Department of Health together with the supporting documents to the following address:
Department of Health
Center for Professional Licensing, Room 105A
3 Capitol Hill, Providence, RI 02908-5097
The patient needs to submit a document to prove their address of residency. The application fee is set at $50 for patients, $100 for caregivers and $50 for authorized purchasers. Caregivers and authorized purchasers can only be appointed by the patient and they will also need to submit the supporting documents required in accordance with the cannabis laws in Rhode Island.
Cannabis Testing in Rhode Island
According to the cannabis laws in Rhode Island, all cannabis that is put for sale in compassion centres needs to be tested in order to verify the quality and the safety of the product. Still, even though cannabis testing is mandatory, there are no official testing regulations imposed by the Department of Health in Rhode Island. It is unclear what the cannabis needs to be tested for.
Still, there are some regulations which are being laid out when it comes to releasing certifications and licences to cannabis testing labs. The applicants need to provide a business plan, a layout and description of the equipment used for the testing and the quality assurance protocols they are planning to employ for cannabis testing. The cannabis laws in Rhode Island also demand the testing labs to keep records of all of the samples they have tested for at least 5 years.
The cannabis laws in Rhode Island are not entirely liberal in terms of recreational use, however, the fact that possession of small amounts less than 1 ounce cannot lead to a criminal conviction is a good start. Obviously, this state has tolerance to some degree for recreational users since the only consequence they can experience if caught is a small fine. As for medical users, the laws are quite good since they are able to purchase and cultivate marijuana themselves, as well as appoint authorized purchasers who can buy and distribute marijuana on their behalf.