Cannabis cultivation is legal in Newport County but certain towns have opted not to allow cannabis cultivation businesses in their areas. Cannabis use for medical purposes was made legal by the Edward O. Hawkins and Thomas C. Slater Medical Marijuana Act in 2006. In May 2022, the recreational use of cannabis by adults 21 and older was legalized by the Rhode Island Cannabis Act.
On November 9, 2022, a referendum gave residents of towns and cities in Rhode Island the chance to accept or reject recreational adult-use cannabis businesses in their localities. In Newport County, the City of Newport and the towns of Middletown and Tiverton chose to accept recreational adult-use cannabis businesses, including those engaged in cannabis cultivation. There was no vote held in Portsmouth, signifying they also accept the state default. However, the towns of Jamestown and Little Compton have rejected all types of recreational adult-use cannabis businesses.
The Medical Marijuana Act is subject to regulations to be issued by the Department of Business Regulation. These outline the process for requesting a license to cultivate medical marijuana as well as the locations of permitted facilities. The owner of a medical marijuana cultivator license, as prescribed by Section 21-28.6-16, is allowed to buy, own, grow, process, transfer, or deliver medical marijuana to other licensed medical cannabis cultivators, manufacturers, dispensaries, or compassion centers.
Every licensed medical cannabis grower may own only one facility, which must be registered with the Department of Public Safety and the Department of Business Regulation. The Department of Business Regulation and the Department of Health will conduct reasonable inspections of licensed medical marijuana cultivation facilities to ensure compliance with the legislation.
Registered medical marijuana cardholders who are either patients or caregivers are not eligible for the medical marijuana producer license. The Department of Business Regulation, however, will accept joint applications from two or more of them for cooperative cultivation licenses.
Each cooperative may only use one location, whether residential or non-residential, to grow medical marijuana in line with the cooperative cultivation license. Sharing a building or space with another cooperative is not permissible.
The cooperative cultivation must not be visible to the general public. A written and signed recognition of Rhode Island's limitations on the use and possession of medical marijuana must be prominently displayed in the institution.
In a residential site, a total of 24 seedlings and 24 mature plants may be grown by a cooperative. Each may also store whatever amount of wet marijuana the Department of Health and Department of Health Business Regulation permit. In addition, 10 ounces of dried cannabis or its equivalent is the maximum amount permitted.
The maximum increases to 48 seedlings and 48 mature marijuana plants if the cooperative cultivation is carried out in a non-residential location, in addition to the amount of wet marijuana allowed by the Department of Health and Department of Health Business Regulation. It is still prohibited to possess more than 10 ounces of dried cannabis or its equivalent.
Exclusively medical marijuana producers with active licenses are qualified to apply for a hybrid cultivator license from the Department of Business Regulation for the cultivation of recreational adult-use cannabis under the Rhode Island Cannabis Act. The same laws that regulate the cultivation of medical marijuana also apply to hybrid growing. When growing cannabis, it is not necessary to separate the plants into those meant for medical use and those meant for recreational use.
In accordance with the Rhode Island Cannabis Act, adults who are at least 21 years old may cultivate up to six marijuana plants at home, three of which must be immature and three mature. These plants must only be used for personal consumption. Regardless of the number of adult occupants in a home, the restriction still applies. Separately, every adult can store in their home a maximum amount of 10 ounces of dried cannabis.
Home producers are allowed to give away up to one ounce of cannabis to another adult who is 21 or older, as long as it is for free and is not advertised or promoted. This can ensure that they keep under the limitations. Home producers must also follow all other regulations set down by the Cannabis Control Commission, such as security measures.
Cannabis manufacturing is legal in Newport County in line with the former Medical Marijuana Act and the Rhode Island Cannabis Act of 2022. During the November 9, 2022 referendum, however, the towns of Jamestown and Little Compton rejected all kinds of recreational adult-use cannabis businesses in their areas, including cannabis manufacturing businesses. Newport City and the other towns in the county allow cannabis manufacturing businesses.
The Rhode Island Cannabis Act prohibits holders of a cannabis grower license from requesting a cannabis manufacturer license from the Cannabis Control Commission. A person who has been granted a manufacturer, processor, or distributor license for cannabis products is allowed to purchase cannabis from licensed cultivators and use it to create products. They can only sell these to other authorized manufacturers, processors, wholesalers, retailers, or dispensaries.
The following are the requirements when applying for a cannabis product manufacturer, processor, or wholesaler license:
Complete the application process
Submit documentation proving age of 21 or older
Submit documentation proving state residency
Submit documentation proving correct filing and paying of taxes with the Division of Taxation
Submit to and pass the background check by the Cannabis Control Commission
Pay the required application fee
Pay the required annual license fee
A cannabis testing laboratory must test all the products of each licensed cannabis product manufacturer, processor, or wholesaler before they can be sold.
The packaging and labeling requirements of the Medical Marijuana Act also apply to cannabis products intended for adult recreational use. Additionally, any recreational adult-use cannabis products intended for future retail sale must have the following disclaimers displayed on the packaging:
“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.”
Smoked or vaporized recreational adult-use cannabis products must be packaged with the following clearly displayed warnings:
“Warning: Smoking and Vaping is hazardous to your health.”
“Warning: Vaping can expose you to toxic chemicals that may lead to death.”
Recreational adult-use products that are cannabis-infused should declare the following in larger or bold font on the package: “Effects of this product may be delayed by three or more hours.”
The following warning must be prominently displayed on the package of topical cannabis products for recreational adult use: “For Topical Application – Do Not Eat or Smoke.”
Every serving of edible cannabis products made by firms that hold a license must contain no more than 10 milligrams of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Each box may contain no more than 100 milligrams of THC.
Retail cannabis sales are legal in Newport County under the 2022 Rhode Island Cannabis Act and the much-older Medical Marijuana Act, except in the towns of Jamestown and Little Compton which rejected all kinds of recreational adult-use cannabis businesses during the November 9, 2022 referendum. That includes cannabis retail stores.
A licensed compassionate center is a non-profit organization that is permitted by the Medical Marijuana Act to purchase, possess, grow, produce, supply, transport, distribute, transfer, and deliver medical cannabis but only to registered medical cannabis cardholders. With the passage of the Rhode Island Cannabis Act, existing licensed compassion centers may sell recreational adult-use cannabis, as well, by applying for a hybrid retailer license with the Department of Business Regulation. The application requires a license fee of $125,000.
After receiving a license, the hybrid retail shop must:
Make sure that it has a valid license to operate as a compassion center.
Make sure that the needs of patients under the Medical Marijuana Program would not be compromised by the sale of recreational adult-use cannabis.
Display the authorization certificate prominently.
Apart from the hybrid cannabis retailer licenses, a maximum of 24 licenses will also be granted by the Cannabis Control Commission for purely recreational adult-use cannabis retail sales. To apply, the requirements are identical to those for cannabis product manufacturer, processor, or wholesaler licenses.
Licensed hybrid and non-hybrid retailers are permitted to sell cannabis and cannabis-related products like oils, tinctures, ointments, edibles, beverages, topicals, and items for smoking and vaping.
Those who are 21 years of age and older can purchase edible cannabis products with a maximum THC level of 10 mg per serving or 100 mg per package. Only those with active medical marijuana cards may purchase any edibles that are sold that contain more than this quantity. Only one ounce of marijuana or five grams of cannabis concentrate may be purchased and carried by anyone who is 21 years of age or older and is not a medical marijuana cardholder.
Only the home delivery of medical cannabis by compassion centers to patients who hold medical marijuana cards is legal in Newport County under the Medical Marijuana Act. Deliveries for recreational consumption are not allowed. Compassion centers are allowed to deliver to any medical or treatment facility or hospice that the patient is confined in if the institution agrees.
Only between the hours of 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. are deliveries permitted. Payment in advance is required for each order for medicinal marijuana to be delivered to a patient's home. Payment for deliveries cannot be made when the item is received.
Newport County residents can apply to the Medical Marijuana Program to acquire a medical marijuana card provided they are diagnosed with one of the following qualifying medical conditions:
Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)
Acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS)
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Chronic or debilitating diseases
Medical treatments that result in:
Cachexia or Wasting Syndrome
Severe, chronic, debilitating pain
Agitation due to Alzheimer's Disease
Seizures due to conditions like epilepsy
Severe and persistent muscle spasms, due to conditions like multiple sclerosis or Crohn's disease
The patient must print out and complete the Medical Marijuana Patient Application Form to start the application process. The download will include the Practitioner Form, which a medical practitioner must complete and sign to vouch for the patient's diagnosis. The applications for the caregiver, authorized purchaser, or person in charge of the patient if the patient is a minor are also included.
A caregiver is distinct from an authorized purchaser in that the former may work with up to five patients and collaborate with each to cultivate medical marijuana. An approved purchaser, on the other hand, is only permitted to buy medical cannabis on behalf of a single patient and can only have that patient.
The patient must also include the following in the application:
Proof of state residency through a photocopy of the Rhode Island State ID or Rhode Island driver's license with the original to be brought during the medical marijuana ID picture session
Payment of the non-refundable $50 application fee in the form of a check or money order payable to the Rhode Island General Treasury
Patients qualified for hospice care or undergoing chemotherapy need not pay the application fee if their doctor issues a written certification.
Patients can pay only $25 for the application fee if they submit proof of being a beneficiary of any of the following:
Social Security Disability Income
Supplemental Security Income
Veterans' Disability Benefits
Federal Railroad Disability Benefits
The completed original Patient Application Form and all required inclusions must be mailed to the following address:
Rhode Island Center for Professional Licensing
Room 105A - 3 Capitol Hill
Providence, RI 02908-5097
For more information, the public may contact the following:
Rhode Island Department of Health
3 Capitol Hill
Providence, RI 02908
After Hours Phone: 401-276-8046
The Rhode Island Cannabis Act imposes a 10% state excise tax, a 7% sales tax, and a 3% local tax on cannabis used for adult recreational purposes. The local tax is paid to the municipality where the purchase was made. All fees related to cannabis licenses are remitted to the social equity fund. Therefore, Newport County stands to benefit from the sale of cannabis for adult recreational usage.
From July 1, 2021 to June 30, 2022, approvals for 2,825 patient registrations, 96 caregiver registrations, and 144 authorized purchaser registrations were issued by the Rhode Island Department of Health. This was in the 2022 Annual Report of the Medical Marijuana Program.
In October 2022, cultivators sold $755,385 worth of cannabis to compassion centers, according to data from the Department of Business Regulation. Retail sales for the month totaled more than $4.6 million.
In Rhode Island, the basis for comparison would be the legalization of medical marijuana in 2006 since recreational adult-use cannabis was legalized only in May 2022.
On the FBI crime database, there is no data for Newport County. For Newport City alone, the Newport Police Department reports that in 2005, there were 140 arrests for drug abuse violations, of which 61 were for marijuana possession and seven were for marijuana manufacture or sales. In 2021, arrests for drug abuse violations decreased to 51, of which 24 were for marijuana possession and three were for marijuana manufacturing or sales. DUI arrests decreased from 64 in 2005 to 32 in 2021.
Statewide in Rhode Island, there were 2,915 drug abuse violation arrests in 2005. Among these, there were 1,634 for marijuana possession and 169 for marijuana manufacturing or sales. Drug abuse violation arrests decreased to 1,637 in 2021. Among these, there were 315 for marijuana possession and 77 for marijuana manufacture or sales. DUI arrests increased statewide from 2,399 in 2005 to 2,799 in 2021.