Rhode Island Cannabis Consultant Overview:

How To Open A Marijuana Business in Rhode Island

Are you interested in starting a cannabis business in Rhode Island? The cannabis consultants at New Leaf can help you navigate the process!

This summary of Rhode Island requirements and license application process outlines what it takes to win a marijuana business license. Get started today to meet the demands of consumers! Schedule a free consultation with one of our knowledgeable cannabis consultants in Rhode Island.

Rhode Island Cannabis Consulting & License Application Writing Experts

New Leaf Cannabis Consulting is the #1 Top Rated Cannabis Application Writing, Consulting, and Capital Fundraising one-stop-shop in the U.S. We offer a complete range of services from business model formation and planning, to state licensure, to raising capital and finding investors for the business.

New Leaf has worked with over 180 clients in over 16 different states since we opened our doors in 2015. Our success rate is well over 95% across the board. We offer more services than any of our competition.

If you need cash for your cannabis startup, and/or state and municipal license approval for a completely reasonable price, look no further than New Leaf Cannabis Consulting.

Cannabis Market Condition Overview

Business Climate and Timeline

Need help with your cannabis business license application in Rhode Island? The cannabis consultants at New Leaf have a record of winning recreational and medical marijuana licenses across the U.S.


May 25, 2022 — Rhode Island became the 19th state to legalize adult-use marijuana. The Rhode Island Cannabis Act allows for 24 new retail licenses to be issued in six geographic areas of Rhode Island. Sales are expected to start in December 2022.

Rhode Island’s Office of Cannabis Regulation is responsible for the licensing and regulatory oversight of compassion centers, cultivators and cooperative cultivations as well as the oversight of medical marijuana plant tagging requirements. It oversees licensing and regulation of industrial hemp growers and handlers and CBD consumable retailers and distributors.

Medical Use:

In 2006, Rhode Island was the 11th state to legalize medical marijuana. Under the new law, Rhode Island’s existing medical marijuana dispensaries will be able to transition to hybrid stores selling both medical and adult-use cannabis.

To be approved for medical marijuana, a patient must be treated for the following conditions:

  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • Cachexia, or wasting syndrome
  • Cancer or cancer treatment
  • Glaucoma or glaucoma treatment
  • Hepatitis C or treatment for hepatitis C
  • Seizures, including but not limited to those characteristic of epilepsy
  • Severe, debilitating, or chronic pain
  • Severe nausea
  • Severe and persistent muscle spasms, including, but not limited to those characteristics of multiple sclerosis and Crohn’s disease
  • Agitation related to Alzheimer’s disease
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) (for patients 18 or older)

Real Estate & Zoning

In most states, you will need to lock down the location for business operations in the form of either a lease, lease with option to purchase, or a purchase agreement.

Most importantly, during the real estate acquisition process, your company MUST make sure that the actual location COMPLETELY adheres to state and municipal regulations regarding distance restrictions from other businesses such as a daycare or school. An example of this would be Dispensary/Retail. Most times you will not be able to locate your dispensary in a section of the city which is not zoned specifically for retail. Your dispensary location cannot be located anywhere else. Check with the Cannabis Regulatory Commission website for locality resolutions and ordinances.

Usually the next step is Municipal/City/Township Approval. Nine times out of ten, these steps will need to take place before the full license application can be completed and submitted.

Laws and Regulations

As you get started, read up on Rhode Island’s laws, rules, and regulations.

On May 25, 2022, Rhode Island legalized adult-use marijuana, making cannabis legal everywhere cigarettes are permitted. Adults age 21 and older now can possess up to an ounce of cannabis, and may grow cannabis within their primary residence as stated in Bill S2430. Retail sales may begin as early as Dec. 1, 2022. Click here for a PDF presentation on the adult use cannabis program. 

Some details in the Rhode Island Cannabis Act:

  • Cannabis will be subject to a 20% tax rate (split up into the 7% sales tax, 10% cannabis tax and 3% tax by the municipality where the marijuana is sold).
  • Home growing, with a maximum of 6 plants (and a limit of 3 mature plants) per adult over 21 will be allowed.
  • Adults 21 and older will be able to purchase and possess up to one ounce of cannabis.
  • Civil violations, misdemeanors or felony convictions for cannabis possession that is now legal under the law will be expunged from court records.
  • Localities will be allowed to ban adult-use cannabis but cannot ban adult-use sales if the locality already allows medical cannabis sales.
  • Current medical dispensaries will be able to be co-located as adult-use. The state will add another 24 retail licenses, bringing total store fronts to 33.
  • 25% of the new retail licenses will be reserved for social equity applicants, along with a portion of fees collected by the state going to a social equity fund.

Need assistance getting a Rhode Island cannabis business license?  Schedule a Free Consultation

Rhode Island Cannabis License Types

The Rhode Island Cannabis Control Commission will oversee the regulation and control of cannabis within the state. This board will regulate and issue, adult-use cannabis business licenses and regulate the medical cannabis market.

Rhode Island Cannabis License Types

Compassion Center

Medical Marijuana Cultivator
Cultivator Tiers:

  • Micro-License: 0–2,500 sf, $5,000 annual license fee
  • Class A: 0–5,000 sf, $20,000 annual license fee
  • Class B: 5,001–10,000 sf, $35,000 annual license fee
  • Class C: 10,001–15,000 sf, $50,000 annual license fee
  • Class D: 15,001–20,000 sf, $80,000 annual license fee

Adult-Use Cannabis Licenses in Rhode Island

The Cannabis Control Commission has not yet release their regulations for opening an adult-use cannabis business in Rhode Island.

Adult-Use Cannabis Cultivators

The Cannabis Control Commission of Rhode Island has not specified whether or not they intend on releasing new cultivator licenses. A hearing will be scheduled for no later than May 1, 2024 to determine if more cultivation licenses are necessary.

Adult-Use Hybrid Cannabis Cultivators

 In order to open a hybrid cannabis cultivation facility in Rhode Island you must already own an existing medical cannabis facility.

Adult-Use Cannabis Manufacturers

Manufacturers, processors, and wholesalers fall under the adult-use cannabis manufacturers license. Fees have not yet been decided for this license type please check back later for updates.

Adult-Use Cannabis Dispensary

To open a dispensary in Rhode Island, an applicant must be a resident of the state and pay a $30,000 annual fee. Dispensaries will be divided into zones. A maximum of 24 retail licenses are available within the entire state.

Hybrid Cannabis retailers

In order to open a hybrid cannabis retailer location in Rhode Island, the applicant must currently hold a compassion center license and pay a $125,000 annual fee. This license will allow the compassion centers to sell to the adult-use market. 

Rhode Island Cannabis Dispensary Zones:

  • Zone 1: Burrillville, Cumberland, Glocester, North Smithfield, Smithfield, Woonsocket
  • Zone 2: Central Falls, Johnston, Lincoln, North Providence, Providence
  • Zone 3: Coventry, Foster, Scituate, West Greenwich, West Warwick
  • Zone 4: Cranston, East Greenwich, North Kingstown, Warwick
  • Zone 5: Charlestown, Exeter, Hopkinton, Narragansett, Richmond, South Kingstown, Westerly
  • Zone 6: Barrington, Bristol, East Providence, Jamestown, Little Compton, Middletown, Newport, New Shoreham, Pawtucket, Portsmouth, Tiverton, Warren

Rhode Island Cannabis License Process and Scoring Criteria

Rhode Island Cannabis License Requirements

Cannabis licenses are awarded by having a complete and well written application and all required supplemental documentation as well as city approval. An applicant’s criminal history also comes into play as well as past taxes of the owner/directors of the company. And of course, sometimes there is a required proof of capitalization — i.e. proving that you will have enough money in the bank to build out and run your business.

In highly competitive states such as Illinois or New York, there is a scoring process for an extremely limited number of available licenses. Licenses will be awarded to only the best of the best submissions. It is highly suggested that you hire an agency that can provide you with an “above and beyond” application submission.

Eligibility for a Cannabis License in Rhode Island

To apply for a marijuana license in Rhode Island, applicants must meet several qualifications and eligibility requirements necessary to receive a license. Each applicant must be 21 years of age or older and is required to undergo a criminal background check.

Application Requirements for Marijuana Licenses in Rhode Island

To apply for a cannabis business license, you must show compliance with Rhode Island laws and local ordinances. To illustrate your commitment to the process, hundreds of pages of technical writing may be necessary.

Some of the necessary documentation includes the following:

  • License Application (Required Measures and/or Exhibits). A well written application will need to be written in lockstep with the State Regulations for each Exhibit/measure.
  • Business Plan. Including executive summary, mission statement, market analysis, 5 to 7 year business life-cycle timeline with expansion events. Products and services, management and staff, SWOT analysis, quality assurance and compliance.
  • Financials. Full 5 to 7 year financial projections, income statement, balance sheet, statement of cash flows.
  • Operations Manuals, Exhibits and SOP’s such as:
    • Inventory and Recordkeeping/Diversion
    • Quality Assurance Manuals
    • Operations Manuals/Procedures for cultivation, processing, dispensary, lab testing, transportation
    • Transportation and Distribution Plan
    • Employee, Staffing and Training Manuals
    • Social and Economic Impact/equity plans/community outreach plan
    • Environmental Plans with water and electrical usage plan/manual
    • Chemical and Pesticide Storage Plans
    • Waste Disposal Procedures
    • Accounting and Tax Compliance
    • Hemp Research Plan
    • Sanitation and Maintenance Plans
    • Odor Control Plan
    • Patient/Customer Education Manuals (mainly for dispensary/retail)
  • Labor/Union Compliance Agreements
  • Training Manuals. New Leaf will design manuals to your specifications, along with state regulations, for all cannabis business models
  • Regulatory Compliance Manuals. These explain all the different regulatory compliance regulations, such as quality assurance, product recall, packaging and labeling, advertising, hours of operation, patient and/or customer purchase limits, staffing and training, inventory and record keeping, security, tax payment and insurance compliance.
  • Security Plan. Video Surveillance, Alarm System, Emergency Procedures.
  • Floor Plans, Blueprints. To-Scale, with Security Overlays. Floor plans of the entire facility.
  • Corporate Structuring. Social Equity Certification and Registration, LLC and Corporation Registration and FEIN filing, Operating Agreements, Capitalization Tables, Shareholder Rights and Regulations Consultation, Corporate Bylaw Strategy.

Post Licensure Support.

New Leaf serves as a liaison between you, your company, and the State Licensing Commission to help you get through the application evaluation. The State, no matter how good your application is, most definitely will have follow up questions and requests for additional documentation and/or information.

Denial Appeal.

Denial appeal is also part of the Post Licensure Support.

Financial Requirements — How much does it cost to get a cannabis license in Rhode Island?

Many states will require what is known as a Capitalization Attestation. What is this, you may ask? A capitalization attestation is usually done by a CPA. It involves submitting your profit and loss statements, bank account information, proof of funds, and an assumption of the costs for startup CapEx and OpEx.

Need Cash for your Cannabis Startup? New Leaf offers a full suite of Investment Capital Fundraising Services including corporate structuring and partnership agreements, 409 (B) company valuations, 5-7 year pro forma financial projections, and more! New Leaf will act on your behalf in actually SHOPPING the deal to our syndicate of accredited investors from across the globe. We can help you successfully raise the capital needed to get your project off the ground. Find out more here.

Application and Certification Fees

A dispensary in Rhode Island will cost $30,000 for licensing annually. Depending on facility size, operations, and location, a budget of between $400,000 and $1,000,000 will be required.

How to Win a Rhode Island Cannabis Business License

A step-by-step guide on how to apply for and WIN a cannabis license in Rhode Island.

  1. Review the state laws, rules & regulations. Learn about the rules and regulations necessary to operate a cannabis business in the state of Rhode Island. This will help you and your team understand the requirements to win a cannabis license.
  2. Choose a Rhode Island cannabis business license type.
  3. Connect with a Rhode Island cannabis consulting firm. Consider reaching out to a Rhode Island cannabis consultant. Cannabis business license applications can be extremely complex and time-consuming to write. The professional Rhode Island marijuana consultants at New Leaf can manage the entire process for you. We can assist you with license application writing services, increasing your chance of winning a cannabis license in Rhode Island. Book a free consultation today!
  4. Form a business entity. Forming a legal business entity is the next step in the process of applying for a cannabis license in Rhode Island. LLCs and corporations are the two types most commonly formed by cannabis applicants. Find out which is the best choice for your business goals — we can help.
  5. Select a location for your cannabis business in Rhode Island. Choosing a property for your cannabis business that meets all the state and local requirements can be complicated as well. Our experience with zoning processes that can help you find the ideal property for your marijuana business.
  6. Build the best team. The team that you list on your application will have a major impact on whether or not you receive a license.
  7. Write a business plan. After securing a location for your cannabis business, the next step is to develop a carefully detailed business plan. Your business plan will help lay out your goals and track progress as your business begins to grow. Business plans can also help attract investors. Investors use them to determine if a business is on the right path and worth putting money into.
  8. Raise capital for your Rhode Island cannabis business. Although start-up costs for a cannabis business can be significant, careful planning and the right team can make it a huge success. New Leaf can help you craft a detailed plan and get it into the hands of investors.
  9. Write and submit your Rhode Island cannabis business application. Depending on type of license, applicants may need to write and submit the following documentation:
  • Business Plan and Financials
  • Corporate Structuring
  • Safety and Security Plan
  • Location Information
  • Waste Disposal Procedures
  • Transportation and Distribution Plans
  • Employee, Staffing and Training Manuals
  • Regulatory and Compliance Plans
  • Quality Assurance and Control Plans
  • and much more!