Rhode Island

Is marijuana legal in Rhode Island?

No, adult-use marijuana is not legal in Rhode Island. Patients with a qualifying condition, however, can purchase and consume marijuana in the state after they have registered with the Medical Marijuana Program. 

Possession of 1 ounce or less of marijuana is considered a civil offense punishable by a fine of up to $150 and surrender of the marijuana. The charge carries no jail time and doesn't result in a criminal record. 

Legislative history

The Rhode Island legislature passed the Edward O. Hawkins and Thomas C. Slater Medical Marijuana Act, or S0710, in January 2006 over the veto of  Gov. Donald Carcieri. The law made Rhode Island the 11th state to legalize medical marijuana and instructed the Department of Health and the Department of Business Regulation to promulgate rules and oversee patient registration and caregiver licensing, respectively. 

To enforce Rhode Island marijuana laws, S0710 established the Rhode Island Department of Health (DOH) Medical Marijuana Program. The DOH is responsible for reviewing and approving patient, caregiver, and authorized purchaser applications. The Rhode Island Department of Business Regulation (DBR) is responsible for the licensing and regulatory oversight of cultivators, cooperative cultivations, the state's medical marijuana plant tracking system, and compassion centers.

In 2009 the legislature passed House Bill 16, which amended the previous law to create compassion centers  

Where is it safe to purchase weed in Rhode Island?

Patients, caregivers, and authorized purchasers can obtain cannabis from a state-licensed compassion center. If patients are unable to make the transaction themselves, they may designate up to one caregiver and one authorized purchaser to deliver the medical cannabis to them. Patients, caregivers, and authorized purchasers are limited to 2.5 ounces (70.87 grams) of usable cannabis every 15 days.

Commercial delivery services are prohibited in Rhode Island.

Compassion centers are not-for-profit organizations so medical marijuana is not subject to any excise, use, or sales tax.

Finding licensed dispensaries in Rhode Island

Medical marijuana license holders can find licensed dispensaries in Rhode Island. Delivery isn't available, but some dispensaries in the state offer curbside pickup services in addition to storefront sales. 

Where is it safe to consume cannabis?

Cannabis consumption must take place on private property.

Smoking or vaping in a designated non-smoking area is prohibited.

Driving or riding a bicycle under the influence of cannabis is illegal. Consumption in a vehicle is not allowed, for either drivers or passengers.

Possessing cannabis

Only patients and their caregivers or authorized purchasers can legally possess medical cannabis. All must be registered with the Department of Health's Medical Marijuana Program and possess valid registry identification cards. Patients, caregivers, and authorized purchasers are permitted to possess up to 2.5 ounces (70.87 grams) of usable cannabis or any combination of dried, edible, or marijuana concentrate at one time. 

Possession of 1 ounce (28.35 grams) or less of non-medical cannabis is a civil crime punishable by a fine of $150 for the first offense.

Is home cultivation allowed in Rhode Island?

Patients who elect to cultivate their own cannabis are limited to 12 mature plants and 12 seedlings. Patients who grow marijuana and all primary caregivers must register their cultivation location with the DOH and purchase medical marijuana plant tags for each plant that they grow. Tags are $25 for a set of two, for one mature plant and one immature plant. 

Primary caregivers may possess and cultivate medical cannabis for up to five patients at one time. A primary caregiver may possess up to 24 mature marijuana plants with valid tags, as well as 24 seedlings. Primary caregivers may also possess 2.5 oz (70.87 grams) of usable dried cannabis per patient in a single location.

Patients are required to designate if they wish to grow their own cannabis or appoint a caregiver to grow on their behalf.

Medical cannabis cooperative cultivation options are available to registered patients and caregivers who wish to operate either a residential or non-residential facility. A residential cooperative cultivation formed by two or more qualified patients and/or primary caregivers may possess no more than 24 mature cannabis plants and 24 seedlings for a total of 48 cannabis plants. Residential cooperative collectives are allowed 10 ounces of usable cannabis in addition to the aggregate total maximum of dried cannabis, edible, or concentrate equivalent that all members of the cooperative are permitted to possess.

A non-residential cooperative cultivation may possess 48 mature cannabis plants, 48 seedlings, and the aggregate total number of mature plants and seedlings that each individual qualified patient and each individual primary caregiver growing at the cooperative cultivation is permitted to grow. Non-residential cooperative collectives are also allowed 10 ounces of usable cannabis in addition to the aggregate total maximum of dried usable cannabis, edible, or concentrate equivalent that all members of the cooperative are permitted to possess.

Medical marijuana program

The Rhode Island Medical Marijuana Program is responsible for the oversight of patient, caregiver, and authorized purchaser applications and ID cards.

Adult patients and patients younger than 18 must meet certain requirements for DOH approval. 

Residents of Rhode Island who have been diagnosed with a qualifying debilitating medical condition can obtain and use medical cannabis if they have a physician's written certification form.

A registered caregiver must be at least 21 years old to participate in the program. Registered caregivers will be required to provide proof of residency and complete a background check. For minors, the patient's parent or legal guardian must be designated as their caregiver and/or authorized purchaser.

Qualifying patients may designate one authorized purchaser to assist in purchasing and delivering marijuana from a compassion center or cooperative cultivator. An authorized purchaser must be at least 21 years old and must complete a background check as well. An authorized purchaser may live out of state.

Patients may complete an application online. Patient and caregiver registrations expire one year from the date issued. Renewal applications are sent out 60 days before the expiration date.

Qualifying conditions

  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • Cachexia, or wasting syndrome
  • Cancer or cancer treatment
  • Glaucoma or glaucoma treatment
  • Hepatitis C or treatment for hepatitis C
  • HIV/AIDS
  • Seizures, including but not limited to those characteristic of epilepsy
  • Severe, debilitating, or chronic pain
  • Severe nausea
  • Severe and persistent muscle spasms, including but not limited to those characteristic of multiple sclerosis and Crohn's disease
  • Agitation related to Alzheimer's disease
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) (for patients 18 or older)

Application process

  1. Obtain a physician's certification that confirms the diagnosis of at least one qualifying medical condition
  2. Complete and submit an application to the DOH 
  3. Provide a valid state-issued identification card to establish proof of Rhode Island residency
  4. Submit applicable application fee(s):
    1. $50 patient application fee
    2. $100 caregiver application fee
    3. $50 authorized purchaser application fee

Lab testing

The Rhode Island Department of Health has stipulated all medical cannabis harvested by licensed cultivators and registered compassion centers be tested for safety and quality control. 

State-licensed labs test dried flower and manufactured products for:

  • Cannabinoids and potency
  • Heavy metals
  • Microbes
  • Pesticides
  • Residual solvents
  • Water activity

This page was last updated December 9, 2020.

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The information contained in this site is provided for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as medical or legal advice. This page was last updated on July 19, 2021.