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Rhode Island rolled the dice twice last week to double its odds of enacting an adult-use cannabis program by April 2022. A Senate bill and Gov. Dan McKee’s state budget proposal both offer avenues toward legalization on the same timeline.
Senate Majority Leader Michael J. McCaffrey and Democratic colleague Sen. Joshua Miller introduced Senate Bill 568 March 9, which outlined the details of possession, taxing, local participation, home grows, social equity and retail, as well as establishing a five-member Cannabis Control Commission to oversee licensing.
“The act further provides for the creation of [a] social equity assistance fund and program to be funded by licensing and renewal fees, as appropriated,” the bill states. “The act also provides for an expedited expungement procedure for prior cannabis arrest and convictions involving 1 ounce or less of cannabis.”
The bill’s 11-tier licensing system costs for cultivators would range from $100 for up to 1,000 square feet of outdoor grows, to $20,000 for indoor grows between 90,000 and 100,000 square feet. Other annual licensing fees include $5,000 for manufacturers, $5,000 for independent testing laboratories and $20,000 for retailers, according to the bill.
Additional revenue would come in the form of a 20% tax on retail sales, which breaks down to a 10% cannabis excise tax, a traditional 7% sales tax and a 3% local sales tax that would stay in the city or town where the point of sale occurred, according to the bill. Local municipalities could opt out of issuing retail licenses, if voters adopt a ballot measure that prohibits dispensaries in their communities.
“We want to provide cities and towns with the ability to opt out, but we cannot allow an overly burdensome patchwork of regulation throughout our state,” McCaffrey said in a press release. “We know from experiences