Rhode Island Cannabis Retailing License

If you’re interested in entering the cannabis industry in Rhode Island following the legalization of adult-use cannabis in May 2022, you may want to consider opening a cannabis retail dispensary.

The regulations are still being drafted regarding the requirements for newcomers to the cannabis retail industry but cannabis usage is now legalized for adults in Rhode Island.

We can expect it to be tightly regulated because safety, health and security concerns remain in some quarters about the recreational use of cannabis.

Experience of the legalization process in other states suggests that there will be stringent licensing and compliance requirements to meet before you can even think of operating a business here.

That said, the potential opportunities for dispensary operators in Rhode Island are exciting.

The lawyers at Cannabis law Solutions have been tracking the emergence of the recreational cannabis industry in Rhode Island for years and can help you secure a cannabis retail license for your business.

Rhode Island Cannabis Retailing License

Local cannabis laws and restrictions

Under the provisions of the Rhode Island Cannabis Act (the legislation governing recreational cannabis usage in the state), a provision was made for a total of 33 retail licenses in Rhode Island. In-store sales of recreational cannabis in licensed premises may start in December 2022.

The licenses are to be distributed throughout six zones around the state but include three current medical cannabis dispensaries (in Providence, Warwick, and Portsmouth) plus six recently awarded compassion centers, which are in various stages of completion.

This leaves 24 retail dispensary licenses to be awarded by the state’s Cannabis Control Commission, which is tasked with regulating the industry and issuing licenses.

Land use and zoning laws are complex enough in Rhode Island’s 39 municipalities but the issue is further complicated by some local municipalities not permitting cannabis anywhere. Other municipalities enable cannabis sales only if particular conditions are met, such as special use permits.

The Rhode Island League of Cities and Towns said in 2021 that cities and municipalities in the state should be able to opt-out of enabling recreational cannabis usage through their local councils. Newport City and Middletown, for instance, both expressed desires to have the authority to prohibit adult-use marijuana sales in their cities and prevent marijuana dispensary sales.

Some municipalities are against adult-use cannabis sales but would allow cultivation centers and testing sites.

A referendum vote in November 2022 will allow different municipalities to express their preferences regarding cannabis sales.

So, depending on your preferred location, the local laws and restrictions may throw up obstacles to your plans for a dispensary.

The best course of action is to speak to a professional in the know who understands the opportunities here and how to navigate the many potential legal barriers to getting started in the industry.

Adult use cannabis licensing in Rhode Island

The Rhode Island Cannabis Act makes a provision for four other types of adult-use cannabis licenses besides retailer licenses for dispensaries.

These are:

  • Cannabis cultivator licenses
  • Cannabis product manufacturer licenses
  • Hybrid cannabis retailer licenses
  • Cannabis testing laboratory licenses

The hybrid cannabis retailer license is for medical cannabis dispensaries (“compassion centers”), that also want to sell recreational cannabis.

Each license lasts for a year, with renewals set to be granted within 30 days upon receipt of a renewal application and fee from licensees in good standing.

To open a dispensary in the state of Rhode Island, candidates must meet the following requirements:

  • At least 21 years old
  • Pass a background check (no criminal convictions)
  • Compliance with local zoning/rules or municipal approval secured
  • Payment of a nonrefundable application fee

How much does it cost to open a dispensary in Rhode Island?

The license fee for a cannabis dispensary in Rhode Island is $30,000 annually.

Most of our clients start operations with an initial budget of $400,000 to $1 million for a new dispensary, depending on the size, operations, and location of the retail outlet.

What are the Rhode Island cannabis dispensary zones?

For the purposes of cannabis licensing, the following is a breakdown of the six geographic zones spanning the 39 municipalities in Rhode Island:

  • Zone 1: Burrillville, Cumberland, Glocester, North Smithfield, Smithfield, Woonsocket
  • Zone 2: Central Falls, Johnston, Lincoln, North Providence, Providence
  • Zone 3: Coventry, Foster, Scituate, West Greenwich, West Warwick
  • Zone 4: Cranston, East Greenwich, North Kingstown, Warwick
  • Zone 5: Charlestown, Exeter, Hopkinton, Narragansett, Richmond, South Kingstown, Westerly
  • Zone 6: Barrington, Bristol, East Providence, Jamestown, Little Compton, Middletown, Newport, New Shoreham, Pawtucket, Portsmouth, Tiverton, Warren

How can our cannabis retail license attorneys help?

If you want to sell adult-use cannabis in Rhode Island, trying to set your business up without the right legal advice can cause unnecessary delays, expenses, and legal issues.

The license application process is complex and competitive, with only a limited number available. If you are awarded a license, the eyes of the entire state will be scrutinizing you so it’s important to be able to navigate the legal hurdles that you may encounter.

Our attorneys provide the knowledge and support that you need to plan, incorporate and grow your cannabis business — starting with your application for a Rhode Island cannabis retail 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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