Rhode Island legislative session comes to a close


Last update: June 20, 2016



The Rhode Island Legislature has recessed for the summer and fall and will reconvene in January 2017. Unfortunately, despite overwhelming public support, leaders of the House and Senate did not allow a vote on The Marijuana Regulation, Control, and Taxation Act during the 2016 legislative session.

Legislation was approved that will alter existing marijuana policies in Rhode Island, including:

  • Article 14 in the state budget, which makes significant changes to the medical marijuana program. You can find a summary of the new regulations here.
  • Legislation to add post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to the list of qualifying conditions for medical marijuana.

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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Pending Legislation