Press Release

Rhode Island Legislature Approves Marijuana Legalization Proposal

May 24, 2022

Rhode Island Legislature Approves Marijuana Legalization Proposal

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Contact: Violet Cavendish

After a 55-16 vote in the House of Representatives and a 32-6 vote in the Senate, the legislation heads to the desk of Gov. Dan McKee 

PROVIDENCE, RI — Following floor debates in both chambers of the General Assembly earlier today, a majority of Rhode Island legislators have approved legislation to legalize, regulate, and tax cannabis for adults. The bill will be transmitted to Gov. Dan McKee who has previously indicated he will likely sign the measure. With the governor’s approval, Rhode Island will become the 19th state to end marijuana prohibition. The legislation:

  • Permits adults to possess and purchase up to one ounce of cannabis and cultivate up to three cannabis plants at home;
  • Directs the Rhode Island Judiciary to automatically clear past convictions for cannabis convictions by July 2024;
  • Creates a cannabis retail excise tax of 10%, in addition to the normal sales tax rate of 7%, with another 3% local sales tax;
  • Reserves a quarter of all new retail cannabis licenses for applicants that qualify as social equity businesses while another quarter of new licenses will be awarded to worker-owned cooperatives; and
  • Establishes a social equity assistance fund to provide grants, job training programs, and social services for communities disproportionately impacted by cannabis criminalization.

The Marijuana Policy Project has worked with lawmakers and a coalition of social justice organizations for several years to advance legalization. Jared Moffat, state campaigns manager for MPP, commended legislative leaders for passing a thoughtful and comprehensive legalization measure:

“We are grateful to Rep. Scott Slater and Sen.Josh Miller for their years of leadership on this issue. Rhode Islanders should be proud of their lawmakers for passing a legalization bill that features strong provisions to promote equity and social justice. We’re also thankful to Rep. Leonela Felix who advocated tirelessly for the inclusion of an automatic expungement provision that will clear tens of thousands of past cannabis possession convictions.”

Rhode Island Gov. Dan McKee has previously expressed support for legalizing cannabis and included a separate legalization proposal in his omnibus budget bill introduced in January. 

A comprehensive summary of the legislation can be found here, while the full text of the measure can be found here.


Founded in 1995, the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) is the nation’s leading cannabis policy reform organization. MPP has played a central role in passing dozens of cannabis policy reforms in states across the country, including 10 successful cannabis legalization campaigns, and also works to advance federal reforms.

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