Cannabis cultivation is legal in Kent County. The Edward O. Hawkins and Thomas C. Slater Medical Marijuana Act made cannabis use for medical purposes legal. The Rhode Island Cannabis Act made it legal for adults 21 and older to use cannabis recreationally starting in May 2022.
A vote allowing Rhode Island city and town citizens to approve or disapprove the existence of adult-use cannabis businesses within their borders was held on November 9, 2022. The towns of Coventry, West Greenwich, and West Warwick in Kent County approved the entry of cannabis cultivation businesses. There was no vote held in the town of East Greenwich and the City of Warwick but such also meant that the entry of adult-use cannabis businesses within their territories would be allowed.
The Department of Business Regulation is responsible for issuing regulations under the Medical Marijuana Act. These specify how to apply for a license as a medical marijuana cultivator and where such facilities may be situated. A medical marijuana cultivator license, as defined in Section 21-28.6-16, entitles the holder to purchase, own, cultivate, process, deliver, or transfer medical cannabis to other medical marijuana cultivators, manufacturers, dispensaries, or compassion centers that are also licensed to cultivate, manufacture, and distribute medical marijuana.
Only one facility may be owned by each licensed medical marijuana grower, and it must be registered with both the Department of Public Safety and the Department of Business Regulation. Licensed medical marijuana grower facilities will be inspected by the Department of Business Regulation and the Department of Health on a reasonable basis to make sure that laws are being followed.
The medical marijuana cultivator license is not open to registered medical marijuana cardholders who are either patients or caregivers. However, two or more of them may apply together for a cooperative cultivation license with the Department of Business Regulation.
In accordance with the cooperative cultivation license, only one place, whether residential or non-residential, may be used by each cooperative to grow medical marijuana. It is also not permitted for more than one cooperative to use the same building or area.
The public must not be allowed to see cooperative cultivation. The facility must clearly display a written and signed acknowledgment of Rhode Island's restrictions on the use and possession of medical marijuana.
The maximum number of marijuana plants that can be grown cooperatively in a residential site is 24 seedlings and 24 mature plants, plus the amount of wet marijuana the Department of Health and Department of Health Business Regulation permit. The maximum amount of dried cannabis or its equivalent allowed in a residential site is 10 ounces.
In addition to the quantity of wet marijuana permitted by the Department of Health and Department of Health Business Regulation, the maximum increases to 48 seedlings and 48 mature marijuana plants if the cooperative cultivation is conducted in a non-residential area. The limit of 10 ounces of dried cannabis or its equivalent still applies.
For the cultivation of recreational adult-use cannabis, only medical marijuana growers with active licenses are eligible to apply for a hybrid cultivator license with the Department of Business Regulation under the Rhode Island Cannabis Act. Hybrid growing is governed by the same laws that apply to the production of medical marijuana. Cannabis plants do not need to be segregated by separating those intended for medical use from those intended for recreational use as they are being grown.
The Rhode Island Cannabis Act also permits adults age 21 and older to grow up to three immature plants and three mature plants of marijuana at home for personal use only. The limit applies no matter how many adult residents there are in a home. However, each adult is permitted to keep up to 10 ounces of dried cannabis in their residence.
To make sure that home producers stay under the limits, they are permitted to give away as much as one ounce of marijuana to another individual who is 21 or older, so long as it is done for free and is not publicized or promoted. Additionally, home growers must abide by all other rules established by the Cannabis Control Commission, including safety precautions.
Due to the previous Medical Marijuana Act and the 2022 Rhode Island Cannabis Act, cannabis manufacturing is legal in Kent County. With the results of the November 2022 referendum, cannabis manufacturing businesses were allowed by Kent County residents.
Holders of a cannabis grower license are not permitted by the Rhode Island Cannabis Act to apply for a cannabis manufacturer license with the Cannabis Control Commission. The holder of a manufacturer, processor, or wholesaler license for cannabis products may buy cannabis from authorized growers and make products with it. Only other licensed manufacturers, processors, wholesalers, retailers, or dispensaries are permitted to purchase from them.
To apply for a license as a cannabis product manufacturer, processor, or wholesaler, the following are the requirements:
Completion of the application to the Cannabis Control Commission
Proof of age of 21 or older
Proof of state residency
Proof of good standing with the Division of Taxation for filing and paying taxes
Passing the Cannabis Control Commission’s background check on criminal history and other issues
Payment of application fee
Payment of annual license fee
Before any product of a licensed cannabis product manufacturer, processor, or wholesaler can be sold, it must first pass the inspection of a cannabis testing laboratory.
The Medical Marijuana Act's packaging and labeling specifications also apply to cannabis products intended for recreational adult consumption. Additionally, the following disclaimers must be printed on the packaging of any recreational adult-use cannabis products meant for eventual retail sale:
“Warning: This product contains marijuana. Store in a securely locked cabinet away from children.”
“Warning: It is unlawful to transport this product outside of Rhode Island.”
For recreational adult-use cannabis products intended for smoking or vaporizing, the following warnings must be clearly displayed on the packaging:
“Warning: Smoking and Vaping is hazardous to your health.”
“Warning: Vaping can expose you to toxic chemicals that may lead to death.”
Cannabis-infused products for recreational adult use are required to state on the package in larger or bold font the following: “Effects of this product may be delayed by three or more hours.”
Topical cannabis products for recreational adult use must display on the package the following warning: “For Topical Application – Do Not Eat or Smoke.”
Licensed cannabis product manufacturers are required to ensure that every serving of edible cannabis products contains not more than 10 mg of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Only 100 mg THC or less is permitted in every package.
In accordance with the 2022 Rhode Island Cannabis Act and the much-earlier Medical Marijuana Act, retail selling of cannabis in Kent County is legal. Residents of Kent County approved the entry of cannabis retail shops during the referendum in November 2022.
Under the Medical Marijuana Act, a licensed compassionate center is a non-profit organization allowed to buy, possess, cultivate, manufacture, supply, dispense, transport, transfer, and deliver medical marijuana only to medical marijuana cardholders.
With the Rhode Island Cannabis Act, a licensed compassion center is allowed to submit an application to the Department of Business Regulation for a license to operate as a hybrid retailer and offer cannabis products for sale to adults 21 and older. A $125,000 hybrid cannabis retailer charge must be paid.
Once licensed, the hybrid retailer is required to:
Ascertain that its license as a compassion center is valid and in good standing
Ascertain that the sale of cannabis for recreational adult use would not negatively impact the needs of patients participating in the Medical Marijuana Program
Conspicuously display authorization certificate
The Cannabis Control Commission will also grant up to 24 other licenses for cannabis retail sales to add to the hybrid cannabis retailers. The requirements for application for a cannabis retail sales license are the same as those for a cannabis product manufacturer, processor, or wholesaler license.
Cannabis and cannabis products such as tinctures, oils, ointments, beverages, edibles, topicals, and goods for smoking and vaporizing are allowed to be sold by licensed hybrid and non-hybrid stores.
Individuals who are 21 and older can buy edible cannabis items with a THC content of no more than 10 mg per serving or 100 mg per package. Any edibles that contain more than this amount may only be sold to people who have valid medical marijuana cards.
People who are 21 years of age or older are allowed to buy and bring with them a maximum of five grams of cannabis concentrate or one ounce of marijuana.
The Medical Marijuana Act permits the transportation of only medical cannabis in Kent County, and only when compassion centers make home deliveries to patients who have valid medical marijuana cards. Deliveries for recreational cannabis are not allowed. If the patient is confined and the facility approves, the delivery may also be made to any medical facility, treatment facility, or hospice.
All deliveries are allowed only from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. All orders for the delivery of medical marijuana to a patient's house require advance payment. Deliveries cannot be paid for upon receipt of the item.
Cannabis purchases cannot be delivered by licensed hybrid or non-hybrid sellers to consumers who are not registered medical marijuana cardholders. Cannabis cannot be sold or delivered directly to consumers by licensed manufacturers and cultivators. However, they are permitted to deliver the marijuana they buy or sell from one another.
To get a medical marijuana card under the Medical Marijuana Program, residents of Kent County must have any of the following approved medical conditions:
Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)
Acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS)
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Any disease that is chronic or debilitating
Any treatment that causes any of these:
Wasting Syndrome or Cachexia
Severe, debilitating, chronic pain
Seizures, like those of epilepsy
Agitation from Alzheimer's Disease
Severe and persistent muscle spasms, like those of multiple sclerosis or Crohn's disease
The application process begins with the patient downloading and completing the Medical Marijuana Patient Application Form. With it is the Practitioner Form which the patient must bring to a medical practitioner to fill up and sign. The medical practitioner will attest to the patient’s diagnosis. Also with it are the applications for the person in charge of the patient if the patient is a minor, a caregiver, or an authorized purchaser.
The difference between a caregiver and an authorized purchaser is that the former is allowed to have five patients and collaborate with each of them to cultivate medical cannabis. In contrast, an authorized purchaser can only have a single patient and is only authorized to make medical cannabis purchases on behalf of the patient.
In addition, the patient must prepare the following for inclusion in the application:
A copy of the Rhode Island State ID or Rhode Island driver’s license as proof of residence, as one of these must also be presented for the medical marijuana ID photo session once the application is approved
A $50 check or money order made out to the Rhode Island General Treasury as payment for the non-refundable application fee
Patients who are certified by their doctor in writing to be undergoing chemotherapy or who are qualified for hospice care are exempt from paying the application fee.
If a patient can provide proof that they receive Social Security Disability Income, Supplemental Security Income, Medicaid, Veterans' Disability Benefits, or Federal Railroad Disability Benefits, their application fee is reduced to just $25.
The patient must mail the completed original Patient Application Form and all the inclusions to the following address:
Rhode Island Center for Professional Licensing
Room 105A - 3 Capitol Hill
Providence, RI 02908-5097
The public may contact the following for further information:
Rhode Island Department of Health
3 Capitol Hill
Providence, RI 02908
After Hours Phone: 401-276-8046
According to the Rhode Island Cannabis Act, a 10% state excise tax, a 7% sales tax, and a 3% local tax are all levied on recreational adult-use cannabis. The municipality where the purchase took place receives the local tax. The social equity fund receives all cannabis licensing payments. As a result, Kent County stands to gain from sales of cannabis for recreational adult use.
Registrations of 2,825 patients, 96 caregivers, and 144 authorized purchasers were approved by the Rhode Island Department of Health from July 1, 2021 to June 30, 2022, according to the Medical Marijuana Program’s 2022 Annual Report.
According to data from the Department of Business Regulation, $755,385 worth of cannabis was sold by cultivators to compassion centers in October 2022. The month's retail sales were more than $4.6 million.
In Rhode Island, cannabis for medical purposes became legal in 2006, and on May 25, 2022, cannabis for adult use became legal. On the FBI crime database, there is no data for Kent County. For Rhode Island, however, in 2005 there were 2,915 arrests for drug abuse violations, of which 1,634 were for marijuana possession and 169 were for marijuana manufacturing or sales. In 2021, arrests for drug abuse violations decreased to 1,637, of which 315 were for marijuana possession and 77 were for marijuana manufacture or sales.
There were 2,399 DUI arrests statewide in 2005. This increased to 2,799 in 2021.