December 21, 2023 5 min read

In Rhode Island, the cannabis laws have undergone notable changes, reflecting the evolving landscape seen across the United States. From stringent prohibitions to an increasing embrace of medical cannabis, Rhode Island's cannabis laws are increasingly complex. 

Let's explore the nuanced world of regulations, from possession limitations to cultivation guidelines, understanding penalties, and navigating the complex routes for obtaining and sharing cannabis within the state.

Table of Contents
Is Cannabis Legal in Rhode Island?
Rhode Island Cannabis Laws
Penalties for Marijuana-Related Crimes
Where to Buy Cannabis Online

Key Takeaways

  • Cannabis is legal for recreational and medical use in Rhode Island. 
  • Recreational users can possess up to 1 ounce of cannabis, while medical patients can buy up to 2.5 ounces. . 
  • There are penalties for possessing more than the allowable amount of cannabis, for unlicensed sales, and for consuming in public spaces. 

Is Cannabis Legal in Rhode Island?

Cannabis flower, hand rolled joints, and edibles to give three examples of cannabis products available in Rhode Island dispensaries.

In Rhode Island, both medical and recreational marijuana use are legal. The Edward O. Hawkins and Thomas C. Slater Medical Marijuana Act, passed in 2006, regulated the use of cannabis for qualifying patients and outlined a list of qualifying conditions for cannabis use. In 2022, Rhode Island witnessed a landmark change with the enactment of the Rhode Island Cannabis Act. 

Now, cannabis regulations for Rhode Island residents are as follows:

Regulations for Recreational Use

In Rhode Island, adults aged 21 and older can:

  • Buy and possess up to 1 ounce of cannabis
  • Travel with cannabis, within specified limits, in a vehicle as long as it is in a closed container that is in an area that’s out of reach to the passengers, such as in the trunk. 
  • Use cannabis in private spaces.
  • Gift up to one ounce of cannabis to other adults 21 or older without receiving payment. 

Regulations for Medical Use

In Rhode Island, medical cannabis is legal for those with a medical card. There are still laws and limits to follow, including that medical card holders may:

  • Buy up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis every 15 days
  • Grow 12 immature and 12 mature plants indoors. Patients must obtain cannabis plant tags for each cultivated plant.
  • Travel with cannabis, within specified limits, in a vehicle as long as it is in a closed container that is in an area that’s out of reach to the passengers, such as in the trunk. 
  • Use cannabis if under the age of 21 with a doctor's recommendation. Users under 18 must designate a caregiver to purchase and administer cannabis. 
  • Consume cannabis in a private residence or approved medical facility. 

Qualifying Conditions for Medical Cannabis in Rhode Island 

The qualifying conditions for medical cannabis in Rhode Island include:

  • Cancer or side effects related to cancer treatment 
  • Glaucoma or side effects related to treatment
  • Positive status for Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) or side effects related to treatment 
  • Acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) or side effects related to treatment 
  • Hepatitis C or side effects related to treatment
  • A chronic or debilitating disease or medical condition or its treatment that produces one or more of the following:
    • Cachexia or wasting syndrome
    • Severe or chronic pain
    • Severe nausea
    • Seizures
    • Severe, persistent muscle spasms
    • Agitation of Alzheimer's Disease

Restrictions

In Rhode Island, cannabis use—both medical and recreational—is legal but regulated. Here are key restrictions:

  • Prohibited Users:Individuals responsible for operating planes, motorboats, or vehicles are barred from using cannabis in Rhode Island.
  • Restricted Locations:Cannabis use is prohibited in areas where children might be exposed to its smoke, correctional facilities, schools, licensed drug treatment centers, public transportation, and premises banning tobacco use.
  • Admittance Restrictions:Facilities involved in cannabis sales or processing cannot allow individuals under 21, except for state employees or qualifying medical marijuana patients, according to Section 21-28.11-27.1 of the 2022 Cannabis Act.

Rhode Island Cannabis Laws

Edward O. Hawkins and Thomas C. Slater Medical Marijuana Act (2006)

  • Legalized medical marijuana use in Rhode Island.
  • Allowed patients to cultivate a limited number of cannabis plants at home. Enacted provisions for accessing and using medical marijuana for qualifying patients.

Rhode Island Cannabis Act (2022)

  • Legalized recreational use of marijuana in Rhode Island and established regulations for its sale and possession.
  • Permitted adults aged 21 or older to possess up to 1 ounce of marijuana and grow limited plants at home.
  • Legalized possession of up to 5 grams of cannabis concentrate.
  • Permitted adults to transfer up to 1 ounce of cannabis to another adult.
  • Established a three-member commission to regulate the cannabis industry and work with the Cannabis Advisory Board.
  • Allowed for the expungement of non-violent marijuana possession convictions before July 1, 2024.
  • Allocated 24 licenses for cannabis retailing to specific geographical areas, with provisions for social equity and workers' cooperative applicants.
  • Allowed towns and cities to create their own cannabis consumption ordinances and control the conversion of medical marijuana centers into recreational retail facilities.
  • Imposed a two-year moratorium on issuing cultivator licenses after final guidelines release, with stringent requirements for applicants including age verification, background checks, fee payments, tax obligations, and compliance with audit protocols.

Penalties for Marijuana-related Crimes in Rhode Island

Possession for Personal Use:

  • Possessing 10 ounces to 1 kilogram is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 1 year in prison and a $500 fine.

Possession with Intent to Distribute:

  • Having 1-5 kilograms is a felony with a mandatory minimum of 10 years and up to 50 years in prison, along with a $500,000 fine.
  • Possessing over 5 kilograms is a felony with a mandatory minimum of 25 years up to life imprisonment and a $100,000 fine.
  • Proximity to schools or driving while possessing can result in increased penalties.

Sale or Cultivation:

  • Selling or cultivating over one ounce to one kilogram is a felony with a maximum of 30 years in prison and a $100,000 fine.
  • Selling or cultivating between 1-5 kilograms carries a mandatory minimum of 10 years up to 50 years in prison and a $500,000 fine.
  • Selling or cultivating 5 kilograms or more carries a mandatory minimum of 20 years up to life imprisonment and a $500,000 fine.
  • Selling to a minor or near schools or parks may lead to harsher penalties.

Hash & Concentrates:

  • Hashish and concentrates are considered as marijuana.

Paraphernalia:

  • Manufacturing, selling, delivering, or possessing paraphernalia with intent to sell or deliver carries up to a $5,000 fine and 2 years imprisonment.
  • Delivering drug paraphernalia to a person under 18 years old results in fines up to $5,000 and imprisonment up to 5 years for adults over 18.

Legal Cannabis and Buy Online Alternatives

Although cannabis is legal in many states, hemp-derived THC products are still rising as a noteworthy alternative thanks to their affordability and accessibility. Hemp-derived THC products are federally legal, unlike traditional marijuana products, meaning they can often be ordered online and shipped right to your door. 

Read “Is Delta-8 Legal? A State by State Guide to Delta-8-THC Laws” to learn more about hemp THC laws near you, then check out our Elev8 and Cloud9 Collections

Vida Optima Cloud9 Delta-9-THC Gummies


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