Rhode Island Cannabis Occupational Licenses

As a heavily regulated industry that can impact people’s lives in Rhode Island, occupational licensing will be a major feature of the cannabis industry here in the coming years.

The cannabis industry is still in its early stages, with the state formally decriminalizing and legalizing adult-use cannabis in May 2022.

To become a part of this exciting industry, you will need to meet strict regulations and navigate a high bar of entry. While the precise laws are still being finalized and will evolve from here, we can expect an occupational licensing model similar to that employed in other states to take shape soon here in Rhode Island.

At Cannabis Law Solutions, our knowledgeable cannabis lawyers have been following the emergence of the industry in Rhode Island for a long time. We are well placed to advise you on the likely legal hurdles you will face and how to meet the upcoming occupational license requirements.

Rhode Island Cannabis Occupational Licenses 

What is an occupational license?

Entrepreneurs looking to enter the cannabis industry in Rhode Island must understand the licensing laws before making a move. That’s easier said than done when the laws are still being formulated.

What we do know is that the cannabis industry will be tightly regulated. As such, the state is likely to adopt an “occupational licensing” model similar to other states. Occupational licensing is a type of licensing required by government regulation where business owners want to pursue a particular profession for a profit.

Other professions with an occupational licensing model include doctors/physicians, lawyers and accountants. These professions are highly regulated by the government because of their potential to have a profound impact on the lives of the public. In some states, tradespeople like electricians and plumbers also fall under occupational licensing regulations.

Occupational licensing is generally adopted when the health, safety, finances, freedom or wellbeing of people is at risk from a profession. It protects the public against unscrupulous or incompetent operators.

Because cannabis businesses will require occupational licensing, there will be an inherent commitment by business owners in the industry to act responsibly, maintain quality, and not pose a risk to the safety or wellbeing of their customers.

Typically, cannabis business license fees are much higher than average occupational licenses in the U.S. Many in the industry see this as unfair but, as already recognized, the bar of entry into the cannabis industry is set high.

Common restrictions with occupational licensing

Because of the responsibility to protect the safety and wellbeing of the public, aspiring cannabis business owners face legal hurdles to enter the industry in Rhode Island, as in other states that have legalized adult-use cannabis.

Occupational licensing requirements are more stringent than standard business licenses. The extra costs are likely to be passed on to customers. We see in other regulated professions like law and accounting that the rates charged can be higher than with other professions. We can expect similar for the cannabis industry when compared with other retail products.

Some states have been accused of using occupational licensing to restrict competition. Restrictions include requiring only registered medical cannabis dispensaries to apply — or only businesses with an existing wholesale dealer license for liquor.

In Rhode Island, the occupational licensing provisions will be made by the Cannabis Control Commission, according to the Rhode Island Cannabis Act. The Commission is in the process of finalizing laws to cover topics like:

  • Qualifications for a license
  • Procedures for obtaining a license
  • Limits to consumer purchases and possession
  • Advertising and marketing regulations

It remains to be seen how stringent the restrictions will be but we can expect an exhaustive and expensive licensing process with higher fees than for other occupational licenses.

We can also expect restrictions placed on who can apply, with the automatic exclusion of anyone with a criminal conviction.

When will cannabis occupational licenses become available in Rhode Island?

According to the present laws, 24 new retail licenses can be issued in six geographic areas of Rhode Island, with sales expected to commence by December 2022.

There is no date yet set for the occupational license model in Rhode Island to be finalized but we are expecting this in the near future. It is likely to be closely aligned with the system employed in other states that have legalized cannabis in recent years.

Rhode Island cannabis licenses

There are currently only two cannabis business license types available for Rhode Island entrepreneurs:

  1. The Compassion Center license
  2. Rhode Island Cannabis Cultivator license

These licenses date back to when only medical cannabis usage was permitted in the state.

According to the Rhode Island Cannabis Act, we are expecting the following cannabis business license types to be available soon:

  • Cultivator
  • Product manufacturer (or Processor)
  • Hybrid retailer (medical and adult-use cannabis)
  • Retailer
  • Testing laboratory

How can our Rhode Island occupational license attorneys help?

Whether you want to grow, manufacture or retail cannabis in Rhode Island, getting set up without the right legal advice is inadvisable.

Our attorneys can provide the knowledge and support you need to plan, incorporate and grow your cannabis business — starting with your application for an occupational cannabis license.

For informed legal advice, call 866-329-0729 for a consultation with a knowledgeable cannabis attorney at Cannabis Law Solutions.

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