As Election Day approaches, anticipation for 2017 legislative session builds


Last update: October 19, 2016



On Tuesday, November 8, Rhode Island voters will head to the polls to determine who will represent them next year in the General Assembly. MPP, a partner in the Regulate Rhode Island coalition, worked closely with Motif Magazine to survey candidates for state representative and state senator regarding their positions on marijuana policy. Respondents were then assigned a grade based on their willingness to embrace sensible marijuana policies. You can see the voter guide here.

Looking past the election, many expect that the outcome of Question 4, Massachusetts’ ballot referendum to regulate and tax marijuana, will have an important impact on the willingness of lawmakers in Rhode Island to take up the issue in 2017. With polling in Massachusetts looking strong, MPP and Regulate Rhode Island stand ready to leverage public support into a vote for passage of The Marijuana Regulation, Control, and Taxation Act in 2017.

Regulate Rhode Island and its coalition partners will continue building statewide support for ending the failed policy of marijuana prohibition. Please be sure to sign up for MPP’s alerts so that you can stay up-to-date on the progress we make in Rhode Island.

Rhode Island’s current possession and medical marijuana laws


While it is still illegal for most adults in Rhode Island to use, possess, or cultivate cannabis, the Ocean State is one of 20 across the country that have decided to no longer jail individuals for simple possession. In 2012, an MPP-led lobbying effort culminated in passage of a law that reduced the penalty for possessing up to an ounce of marijuana to a $150 civil fine. If the individual is under 18, their parent or legal guardian will be notified, and the minor will be required to complete a drug awareness and education program. A third possession offense within 18 months would result in criminal charges.

Rhode Island also has a compassionate medical marijuana program that has been bringing relief to many seriously ill residents for almost a decade. The law protects registered patients from arrest and prosecution for possessing, using, or cultivating a limited amount of marijuana if they have a doctor’s recommendation to do so. The law was amended in 2009 to allow for regulated compassion centers that can distribute medical marijuana to qualified patients. For more information on the medical marijuana program, which MPP played a leading role in enacting, please visit the Rhode Island Department of Health website.

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Stay informed about local events and opportunities to move forward marijuana policy reform in Rhode Island by signing up to MPP’s free legislative alerts.

Pending Legislation