The polls have shown that the majority of Rhode Island residents and Governor Dan McKee are in support of adult-use legalization.
The Rhode Island Senate recently passed a bill to legalize adult-use cannabis and now the bill is now headed to The House of Representatives for final approval. The House has until the legislative session adjourns June 30 to approve S 598. If the House does not approve the measure by the upcoming deadline, there may be special legislative session to be called so lawmakers can finalize adult-use legalization. If Rhode Island does legalize adult-use marijuana in this session, it would be the fifth state to do so in 2021, following Connecticut, New Mexico, New York and Virginia.
The Cannabis Control Commission will be formed to regulate the legal cannabis market and new regulatory framework associated to the bill. The legalization will include a social equity component to communities that have been disproportionally impacted by cannabis criminalization, similar to other states that have recently legalized adult-use cannabis.
With adult-use legalization on the horizon, a wait and see approach to The Ocean State probably makes the most sense. As with other states, we expect the current incumbents to enjoy a first mover advantage but it is unclear now how many licensed operators will ultimately be allowed.