2020-21 Improvements and Recommendations

Rhode Island’s legislators have been busy debating cannabis legalization for all adults over 21 in the 2021 legislative session; three separate bills aiming for that goal are being debated by the state’s legislators. Meanwhile, the state’s medical cannabis regulations implemented new third-party testing guidelines in late 2020. While limited in scope, the new guidelines are certainly an improvement over the state’s previously lackluster safety standards.

As part of a larger program expansion, Rhode Island’s regulators awarded 5 new dispensary licenses in October 2021 to more than double the state’s retail capacity. Regulators in Rhode Island also chose to expand the state’s product safety standards at the beginning of 2021 to include product testing for potency, heavy metals, and microbiological contaminants. For the time being, Rhode Island’s emergency COVID guidelines remain in place.

2021 saw modest growth in enrollment for Rhode Island’s patient registry. With about 2,000 more patients registered than there were during our last report, the state still falls just short of the 20,000-patient mark.

In 2022, legislators should focus on expanding protections for patients including against discrimination in custody hearings and family court, in medical procedures involving organ transplants, and from roadside sobriety tests. Legislators should also look to create an independent review body consisting of patients and caregivers that would help state regulators address patient concerns.