R.I. General Assembly approves legal adult-use cannabis, Governor McKee will sign legislation into law on Wednesday

Nelita Collins

The Rhode Island General Assembly today voted in favor of legislation to legalize, regulate and tax adult recreational cannabis use in Rhode Island, sending the bill to Gov. Daniel McKee, who intends to sign it into law tomorrow.

According to a media advisory received this evening from Governor McKee’s office, Governor Dan McKee will host a bill signing ceremony Wednesday afternoon at the Statehouse “to sign legislation that will legalize recreational cannabis use in Rhode Island. The legislation accomplishes the priorities of making sure legalization is equitable, controlled, and safe”.

The legislation (2022-S 2430Aaa2022-H 7593Aaa), sponsored by Sen. Joshua Miller and Rep. Scott A. Slater, decriminalizes the sale and possession of up to 1 ounce of cannabis for those age 21 and up, with no more than 10 ounces for personal use kept in a primary residence. It would also allow Rhode Islanders to grow a small amount of their own cannabis at home.

Following testimony and months of discussion on the bill, legislative leaders and the sponsors amended the bill to provide automatic expungement of previous convictions for cannabis possession by July 1, 2024, push the start date of legalized adult recreational sales from Oct. 1 to Dec. 1 and eliminate the current fees charged to patients and caregivers for registration in the state’s medical marijuana program, among other changes.

The legislation establishes a 10% state cannabis excise tax that will be imposed in addition to the 7% sales tax, plus a 3% local tax for the municipality where the sale takes place.

“The reality is that prohibition does not stop cannabis use. Since Rhode Islanders can already access cannabis just across the state border or on the illicit market, we experience all the challenges without any of the safeguards or resources that our neighboring states have. With this bill, we are ending prohibition in a way that is safe, keeps revenue in Rhode Island, and is as fair and equitable as we can possibly make it. This bill has been years in the making, and is a collaborative effort to address concerns about protecting medical use, ensuring fair governance and recognizing that we cannot make this transition without taking action to make whole the communities and individuals who have been punished for decades under prohibition,” said Senator Miller (D-Dist. 28, Cranston, Providence), chairman of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee in a statement.

R.I. General Assembly approves legal adult-use cannabis, Governor McKee will sign legislation into law on Wednesday

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