On May 25th, 2022, Rhode Island became the 19th state in America to legalize recreational marijuana. Dan McKee, the Governor of Rhode Island, signed the bill into law less than 24 hours after lawmakers unanimously passed it. The new ordinance permits adults of 21 years and above to legally possess up to an ounce of cannabis and grow a small amount in their primary residence. Furthermore, the new measure also pledges automatic expungement of previous cannabis possession convictions.
During the historic signing of the bill into law, Gov McKee stated that the law was controlled, safe, and equitable. Speaking outside the State House, the governor added that they are establishing a regulatory framework that stresses public health and safety. Consequently, this will be a win for Rhode Island’s social and economic landscape.
Perhaps one of the most anticipated questions Rhode Islanders have is whether they can now partake of cannabis in public. Still, this may not be as clear-cut as marijuana enthusiasts in the state would prefer. According to the new law, marijuana smoking is not permitted in places where cigarette smoking is banned. For this reason, you can’t use your dab pen in areas where cigarettes are restricted.
Under the new ordinance, possession laws will also change. The new law allows adults to have up to an ounce of cannabis. Still, anything between an ounce and two ounces will be a civil violation, similar to a parking ticket. The law also allows people to grow three plants and have three dried plants in their primary residence.
Although some studies have shown that marijuana doesn’t affect driving, the new legislation has repercussions for individuals driving found driving under the influence of cannabis. Rhode Island has a strict drugged driving law. Anyone possessing weed while driving will have their license suspended for up to six months.
Apart from tokers, the new law is also poised to bring revolutionary changes to cannabis businesses. Although Rhode Island decriminalized medical marijuana in 2006, legalizing the recreational use of the substance will open new avenues of income for companies and the local government.
The new legislation calls for retail sales from as early as December. Even so, it may take some time before recreational marijuana stores are up and running. Local authorities will only issue 33 retail licenses spread out across six zones in the state. The three current medical marijuana dispensaries, plus six others still in the planning phase, will be the first beneficiaries of the adult-use retail permits. The governor will appoint a cannabis control commission to decide who wins the other 24 licenses.
There will also be a 20 percent tax on recreational marijuana. Ten percent will be cannabis tax, 7 percent for sales tax, and the remaining 3 percent will go to the community where the marijuana is sold. Considering the number of states that have reaped the rewards of cannabis taxation, this could be a significant boost to the economy of Rhode Island.
When it comes to marijuana use in the workplace, the law dictates that employers are not required to condone the use or possession of cannabis on the job. This encompasses all workspaces, including remote work or any other location where employees perform work duties.
The legalization of recreational cannabis in Rhode Island is excellent news to many. The community, businesses, and consumers are poised to benefit from the new legislation. This new ordinance marks a significant milestone, particularly for Rhode Island.