Governor Dan McKee signed Rhode Island’s legalization of cannabis into law on May 25, 2022. Although, the State has had medical cannabis since 2006. The new law allows residents over 21 years old to possess and consume cannabis recreationally. Accordingly, some medical regulations are updated, including how to administer medical cannabis to children. Rhode Island is the 19th State to legalize recreational cannabis for adults.
What Employers Need to Know About Rhode Island’s Legalization
Of course, whenever a new state legalizes cannabis, employers always worry about what the new laws mean for their business. Subsequently, legalizing cannabis means Rhode Island’s employers must update their drug and alcohol policies. However, for the most part, employers can still prohibit employees from being under the influence of cannabis during work hours.
Accordingly, employers can’t fire or take disciplinary action against an employee for consuming cannabis in private on their own time outside the workplace. However, there are exceptions to this. Depending on the job, an employer can demand the employee is clean for 24 hours before the shift begins. By and large, in positions requiring drug testing, like commercial transportation, an employee cannot trust positive for cannabis. Or, when an employee is on call.
What Schools Need to Know
Legalization comes with new state regulations. One of them outlines what school nurses need to know about Rhode Island’s legalization. The Rhode Island Department of Health is asking school districts to devise a plan to administer medical cannabis to students.
In a statement, the Health Department said: “Rhode Island has had medical marijuana since 2006, but policies and procedures for administration in schools were not in place. The regulations require a written and signed statement from the student’s parent or legal guardian releasing the school and employees from liability.”
Furthermore, school districts must choose a space designated for medical cannabis. According to the regulations, students cannot self-administer their medicine, and they cannot smoke it.
The Rhode Island Certified School, Nurses Teachers Association, has expressed concern over the regulation, as has the teacher’s union.
Details of Rhode Island’s Legalization
Rhode Island is the 19th State to legalize recreational cannabis for adults. Details of Rhode Island’s legalization include:
- Legal for adults over 21 to purchase and possess up to 1 ounce of cannabis
- Adults can grow up to 6 plants for personal use.
- The possession limit per household is 10 ounces.
- The State will expunge prior cannabis possession convictions.
- The new Cannabis Control Commission handles regulation.
- Cannabis sales subject to 7% sales tax, 10% excise tax, 3% municipal tax
- A maximum of 33 retail licences – 25% for “social equity” applicants* and 25% for worker-owned cooperatives
- One cannabis business licence per entity
- Possession for adults 18-20 decriminalized.
- Regulators will determine “cannabis product serving sizes, doses, and potency,”
- Regulators will set THC potency limits
- Municipalities can opt out and ban cannabis retailers from their towns.
*These applicants must live in a rough area, at or below the poverty line, or have a history of arrests and convictions associated with the drug war.