Rhode Island Cannabis Facts

Updated on June 28, 2021.  Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer

The state’s Medical Marijuana Act permits Rhode Island residents with debilitating medical conditions to use marijuana if a physician certifies in writing that the marijuana may alleviate their symptoms and that the potential benefits of using medical marijuana would likely outweigh the health risks to the patient. This means that patients, caregivers, and authorized purchasers who are registered with the Department of Health’s Medical Marijuana Program may possess a limited amount of marijuana without violating state law.

Registered patients may designate one caregiver and one authorized purchaser. Individual caregivers may be responsible for up to five patients. Authorized purchasers can only be associated with one patient. There is no limit to the number of patients a compassion center may serve.

The medical marijuana facts for Rhode Island facts showcase a continuous battle between the state’s congress and its governor. The legislature first passed a medical cannabis law in June of 2005 with an overwhelming majority in favor. However, the governor at the time, Donald Carcieri, immediately vetoed the bill. The governor was then overridden by the legislature on January 03, 2006, to make the Edward O. Hawkins and Thomas C. Slater Medical Marijuana Act into law.

The Department of Health began issuing Rhode Island medical marijuana cards to patients in May of 2006.

In 2009, the legislature passed a bill to authorize the creation of three officially designated dispensaries in the state. Again the governor vetoed the measure and was again overridden.

Rhode Island Medical Marijuana Facts

  • The most recent marijuana data shows that there were 16,418 registered marijuana patients in the state as of December 31, 2016. There were 2,826 active caregivers who had registered with the state.
  • The program’s operation costs totaled $150,000, while $171,410 in revenue was collected during fiscal year 2010.
  • The state’s Department of Health received a combined 1,350 new applications from patients and caregivers for access to medical cannabis between October 1, 2016 and December 31, 2016. There were 1,232 new patient registrations and 192 new caregiver registrations approved. The reason the latter numbers add up to more than 1,350 is that there were a number of applications that were not properly completed before October 1.
  • Interesting Rhode Island marijuana fact: Rhode Island is one of the few states to accept out-of-state medical marijuana cards as fully valid.
  • The most reported qualifying medical conditions are chronic pain, nausea, cancer and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
  • A January 2017 poll conducted by Public Policy Polling showed that 59 percent of Rhode Island voters were in favor of legalizing weed and taxing it much in the same manner as alcohol. This number was up from 57 percent in 2015. Only 36 percent of voters who participated in the poll were opposed to legalization.
  • One of the more interesting facts for Rhode Island is how the numbers differentiated depending on the area of the state that was polled. For example, while only 53 percent of voters in North Kingstown were in favor of legalization, 64 percent of Newport voters supported it.
  • State representatives Joshua Miller and Scott Slater introduced a bill known as the Cannabis Regulation, Control and Taxation Act during the 2017 Rhode Island state legislative session. The bill would make it legal for anyone 21 years or older to be able to legally possess up to an ounce of weed and also be able to cultivate one mature plant — as long as it was grown in a place that was enclosed and locked.
  • The same bill would create an Office of Cannabis Coordination, which would be responsible for helping to ensure a regulated system of distribution. This would include cultivation facilities, processing and testing facilities and licensed retail stores.
  • In addition, the bill would call for levying a 23 percent tax on retail sales of weed, which would be in addition to the existing sales tax of 7 percent.

For more medical marijuana information for Rhode Island and the rest of the U.S., check back with MarijuanaDoctors.com often.

Rhode Island Medical Marijuana Facts and Statistics: Patients and Caregivers

Patient-Caregiver RatioNumber of Individuals
Patients with no caregivers1736
Patients with 1 caregiver735
Patients with 2 caregivers598
Caregivers with 1 patient1642
Caregivers with 2 patients239
Caregivers with 3 patients49
Caregivers with 4 patients15
Caregivers with 5 patients3


Medical Marijuana Facts and Statistics for Rhode Island: Qualifying Conditions

ConditionNumber of Patients
Cancer214
Glaucoma37
HIV/AIDS135
Hepatitis C209
Chronic or Debilitating Condition1419
Cachexia100
Chronic Pain711
Seizures24
Muscle Spasms585
Agitation or Alzheimer’s3
Severe Nausea207

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