Rhode Island marked its first anniversary of legalizing adult-use cannabis with impressive sales figures and positive feedback from consumers and businesses. The state’s Office of Cannabis Regulation reported that recreational and medical cannabis sales combined reached $105 million in the year since the launch of the new industry.
A Steady Growth in Demand and Revenue
According to the data, recreational sales accounted for about two-thirds of the total, with $69.6 million, while medical sales contributed $35.4 million. The demand for legal cannabis products has been growing steadily since December 2022, when the first licensed retailers opened their doors to customers aged 21 and older. The peak month for sales was August 2023, with $10.4 million in total revenue, followed by September, with $9.8 million.
The state and local governments also benefited from the legal cannabis market, as they collected more than $15 million in taxes and fees from the sales. The state’s 10% cannabis tax generated $7.6 million, the 7% sales tax added $5.3 million, and the 3% local tax brought in $2.3 million. The tax revenue is allocated to various programs and initiatives, such as substance abuse prevention, public health, education, and social equity.
A Careful and Equitable Approach to Regulation
Rhode Island became the 19th state to legalize adult-use cannabis in June 2022, when Gov. Dan McKee signed the Rhode Island Cannabis Act into law. The law allows for up to 24 new retail licenses to be issued in six geographic areas of the state, with a preference for social equity applicants and existing medical marijuana dispensaries. The law also created the Cannabis Control Commission (CCC) to oversee and regulate the industry.
Gov. McKee praised the state’s careful and equitable approach to implementing the legal cannabis market, saying that it was done in a “safe, controlled and equitable manner”. He also highlighted the economic opportunities and benefits for the local cannabis supply chain, which consists of nearly 70 licensed cultivators, processors, and manufacturers.
The CCC, which was formed in June 2022, has been working on developing the rules and regulations for the industry, as well as hiring staff and conducting inspections. The commission has also been listening to the feedback and suggestions from industry stakeholders and advocates, who have called for changes to the law, such as narrowing the qualifications for social equity applicants, expanding the social equity fund, allowing fee waivers, and offering provisional licenses.
A Bright Future for the Cannabis Industry in Rhode Island
The first year of legal cannabis sales in Rhode Island has been a success story, with strong consumer demand, high-quality products, and responsible regulation. The industry is expected to continue growing and evolving, as more retailers enter the market, more products become available, and more consumers become aware of the benefits of legal cannabis.
Rhode Island has joined the ranks of other states that have legalized cannabis for adult use, such as Massachusetts, Maine, Vermont, and Connecticut, creating a regional market that could attract more tourists and investors. The state has also set an example for other states that are considering legalizing cannabis, showing that it can be done in a way that promotes social justice, public health, and economic development.