When The Rhode Island Cannabis Act was signed into law in May 2022 and the state became the 19th to legalize the possession, home-growing, and recreational use of cannabis, many wondered when new dispensaries would start opening.

Under the law, the sale of small amounts of marijuana for recreational purposes is allowed, meaning that you can buy cannabis legally from licensed stores. It is also legal to possess up to one ounce of cannabis in public.

When Will Rhode Island Recreational Dispensaries Open?

But here we are in 2024 and where are all the dispensaries? The promised “boom” of dispensaries across the state that many people are talking about has so far failed to materialize.

So, what can we expect in 2024?

Where can you currently buy cannabis legally in RI?

Adults over the age of 21 in Rhode Island can possess up to one ounce of cannabis on their person and up to ten ounces in their homes. You can also legally grow up to three mature and three immature cannabis plants in your home (a total of six plants).

Remember, you cannot smoke or vape cannabis in public places that prohibit smoking or vaping tobacco. Local municipalities may have also banned the activity in additional places under their control so check the rules before smoking or vaping.

From December 2022, adults have been able to purchase cannabis from one of five dispensaries that already existed for the sale of medical cannabis in Rhode Island. These were effectively “repurposed” to allow recreational sales of cannabis to adults as well as medical purchases.

Another two dispensaries have since received cannabis business licenses, making a total of seven dispensaries open for business in Rhode Island as of January 2024.

Retail cannabis licenses in Rhode Island

The Rhode Island Cannabis Act also outlined proposals for many additional licensed dispensaries across the state—specifically so that up to four stores could operate in each of six regions in the state.

Rhode Island’s cannabis law sets a cap of 24 retail licenses. One store in each region must be a worker-owned co-op and one must be owned by a social equity applicant.

The cannabis retail license application process for new dispensaries has been underway for some time. The application process is overseen by the Cannabis Control Commission in Rhode Island, which is the body responsible for regulating the industry in the state.

Licensing fees are costly in Rhode Island, with retail operations paying $125,000 to the Department of Business Regulation (DBR) to sell adult-use recreational cannabis PLUS an annual licensing fee of $500,000.

What does the Cannabis Control Commission say about new dispensaries in RI?

The makeup of the state’s Cannabis Control Commission was confirmed in mid-2023. Since then, there has been a lot of chatter in Rhode Island about when more adult-use cannabis stores would be coming online.

The Commission is headed by Kimberly Ahern and one of the most pressing concerns is the opening of the promised new dispensaries. A glut of cannabis is available because cultivators have been preparing inventory for new stores to come online sooner rather than later—and the situation is not helped by the oversaturated market in neighboring Massachusetts.

Ahern said back in the middle of last year that new stores will open in 2024 but the licensing process won’t start until regulations on how that process will proceed are finalized. She added that she wanted to collect feedback from stakeholders, including those who have been impacted by prohibition.

Ahern believes that a lottery-type selection system, such as the one used to pick the most recent dispensary licensees, might not be the best way to proceed with the new dispensaries.

How is the cannabis industry doing in Rhode Island?

Legal sales of recreational cannabis reached their first anniversary in December 2023.

State records show that sales are currently ticking along at around $7 to $7.5 million per month at the seven dispensaries across the state, increasing month over month since Dec 2022. The estimated sales figure for fiscal year 2024 is $76 million.

Over the past 12 months, the sales of medical cannabis have steadily fallen. This is in line with the experience of other states that have legalized recreational cannabis. The combined monthly total for recreational and medical cannabis is around $9-10 million.

Hopes for more cannabis dispensaries in 2024

It’s a case of “watch this space” for news about when Rhode Island’s promised dispensaries will open. There is hope—but no guarantee—that this will be sometime during 2024.

As the Cannabis Control Commission beds down and tackles its considerable workload, perhaps RI residents can look forward to a dispensary opening nearby soon.

For informed legal advice about cannabis businesses in Rhode Island, call 866-329-0729 for a consultation at Cannabis Law Solutions.

Call Now Or Send a
Message to Get Help.

We are here for you

Call Now (866) 329-0729

How will our cannabis and psychedelic business services help you

Cannabis & psychedelics business entity formation

Whether you are looking to form a limited liability company (LLC) or a corporation, our experienced business lawyers can discuss the pros and cons of both and help you incorporate your business with the optimal structure to achieve your goals.

Cannabis & psychedelics business licenses

If you want to run a cannabis or psychedelics business, you will need a valid business license issued by your state authority as well as local permits. Eligibility criteria are likely to be stringent and we can help you navigate the often-complex license application process.

Cannabis & psychedelics corporate documentation

Whether you need to prepare for a license application, transfer of business ownership, change of corporate structure, transfer business location or another business process, we can help you identify and draft the documentation you need to operate legally in your state.

Cannabis & psychedelics administrative law

State authorities watch licensed and unlicensed cannabis and psychedelics businesses closely. If you violate regulations, you could face an administrative penalty. Our attorneys can provide representation or help you prepare for an administrative hearing, settlement conference or appeal.

Cannabis & psychedelics disputes and litigation

Whether you have a dispute with another business, a legal issue with one of your partners or a licensing or administrative issue, you may need legal assistance to help resolve it. We are adept at alternative dispute resolution methods as well as civil litigation.

Cannabis & psychedelics regulatory compliance

As the cannabis and psychedelics industries emerge in states around the U.S., they are more heavily regulated than most other industries. We can help your business navigate the red tape and plan to stay on the right side of the regulatory authorities in whichever state you are based.