On the heels of successful ballot initiatives in other states, Rhode Island well positioned to regulate and tax marijuana

Last update: November 9, 2016


After an historic Election Night for marijuana policy reform, Rhode Island could become the next state to regulate and tax adult adult use — and potentially the first to do so through a state legislature.

The passage of Question 4 to tax and regulate marijuana in neighboring Massachusetts, in particular, will increase the pressure for Rhode Island’s political leaders to take up and ultimately pass The Marijuana Regulation, Control, and Taxation Act.

The 2017 Rhode Island legislative session begins in early January. As a key member of the Regulate Rhode Island coalition, the Marijuana Policy Project will take a lead role in working with legislators to ensure that the bill to regulate and tax marijuana for adult use is voted on and ultimately passed.

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. Please spread the word so we can grow our coalition, and let your lawmakers know you want them to follow the Bay State’s lead!

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.

Sign up now to stay up-to-date on Rhode Island marijuana policy


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.