Rhode Island has officially become the nineteenth state to legalize cannabis.
On Wednesday, Governor Dan McKee signed the Rhode Island Cannabis Act (RICA), legalizing adult-use cannabis for adults over 21.
Lt. Governor Sabina Matos and Senate Majority Leader Michael J. McCaffrey joined Governor McKee for the signing, along with Senate Committee on Health and Human Services Chairman Joshua Miller and House Deputy Majority Leader Scott A. Slater.
Lawmakers introduced RICA in March.
Legal Cannabis in Rhode Island
Adults may possess up to one ounce and grow one to three cannabis plants at home under the new law.
In addition to legalizing cannabis, RICA automatically expunges prior civil or criminal cannabis possession charges.
RICA gives Rhode Island courts until July 1, 2024, to automatically erase past convictions, but people may request expungement before then.
Governor McKee says the law creates a structure for common-sense adult-use cannabis regulation with a strong emphasis on public health and safety.
“This bill successfully incorporates our priorities of making sure cannabis legalization is equitable, controlled, and safe,” says Governor McKee. “In addition, it creates a process for the automatic expungement of past cannabis convictions. My Administration’s original legalization plan also included such a provision, and I am thrilled that the Assembly recognized the importance of this particular issue.”
Governor McKee says the result is a social and economic win for Rhode Island.
Under RICA, adult-use cannabis sales could start by December.
The new law would impose a 20 percent tax rate which would consist of a 7 percent sales tax, a 10 percent cannabis tax, and a 3 percent tax by the municipality where the cannabis is sold.
“This is truly a momentous day for Rhode Island,” says McCaffrey. “I’m deeply grateful to Senator Miller for his years of hard work and leadership on this issue, and I’m incredibly proud to have been part of reaching this point…Ending cannabis prohibition helps us right past wrongs while creating new opportunities for all Rhode Islanders.”
McCaffrey says passing RICA is the right move at the right time for Rhode Island.