History of CBD and Cannabis In: Rhode Island
American public policy is often marked by fast and surprising shifts in public opinion on a series of issues, and the liberalization of marijuana laws is certainly one such area. In the late 1990s, save for a handful of states, marijuana was illegal everywhere for any reason. Things have changed dramatically, with medical marijuana being legal in 33 states (and Washington, D.C.) and recreational marijuana being legal in 11 states (and D.C.).
Every state has its own unique marijuana journey, and Rhode Island is no exception. Broadly speaking, the state’s policy is somewhere in the average of where most marijuana policies are in America: It has legalized medical marijuana and decriminalized small amounts of marijuana. However, it has not yet fully legalized marijuana for recreational use.
Medical Marijuana in Rhode Island
Rhode Island legalized medical marijuana in 2005, but what makes its story interesting is the path which it took. Generally speaking, most states which legalize marijuana either do so at the ballot box (through the initiative or referendum process) or via a bipartisan compromise with both parties, the Governor and the Legislature. In 2005, Rhode Island’s legislature overwhelmingly passed a medical marijuana legalization package, with the bill passing 52-10 in the State House and 34-2 in the State Senate. However, the state’s Governor at the time, Republican Don Carcieri, vetoed the bill. Shortly after, the veto was overridden, and the bill became law anyway.
Like other states, Rhode Island has a list of qualifying conditions, which include cancer, glaucoma, AIDS and more. In 2016, more than 15,000 patients were registered to receive medical marijuana. The state also has three dispensaries.
Marijuana Decriminalization Legalization in Rhode Island
Despite the fact that it’s Governor is Democratic and it’s legislature is controlled by Democrats, recreational marijuana has still not seen major legislative movement. While legalization was at one point included in a proposed budget bill, it was ultimately removed from that legislation.
However, Rhode Island has decriminalized small amounts of marijuana possession, voting to do so in 2012. Individuals found with less than an ounce of marijuana will be subject to a small fine.
The state has studied the issue, creating a 19 member study commission in 2017.
The opposition of the legislature to full legalization comes despite the fact that public polling in Rhode Island has repeatedly showed that the proposal is popular in the state and favored by a majority of the public.
CBD Laws in Rhode Island
The passage of the 2018 Farm Bill removed CBD from the Schedule One list of banned drugs, clearing the way for the compound to be sold in the United States. Laws to regulate CBD have been proposed in Rhode Island; however, as of yet, none have passed. As such, CBD remains legal in the state, provided that it is in compliance with federal law, which requires that CBD contain no more than .3% THC.