CONSULTATION FEE RANGE
MMJ PURCHASING LIMITS
- 2.5 OUNCES OF USABLE MARIJUANA EVERY 15 DAYS
MINIMUM AGE LIMIT
If you’re already an Ocean State resident and can verify your residency, getting a Rhode Island Medical Marijuana Card is relatively easy. The Rhode Island medical marijuana program is well-established compared to many of its counterparts.
The state first banned marijuana without a prescription in 1918. It then took RI almost 90 years to finally change its laws to allow MMJ. It took another 15 years, but finally,
Rhode Island adults aged 21+ can now possess recreational weed, although legal sales haven’t yet started.
Therefore, if you want to purchase marijuana legally, you need an RI medical card. This guide outlines everything you need to do to get your valid MMJ license in a simple, easy-to-follow format.
Rhode Island Medical Marijuana Laws
Possession of less than an ounce is now legal if you’re an adult aged 21+. The possession of over an ounce is a misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in prison and a $500 fine. You don’t enter felony territory until you are caught with more than one kilogram of cannabis. However, the illegal sale of over an ounce is a felony with a potential prison term of up to 30 years!
The fact that recreational marijuana is legal in Rhode Island is exciting news. However, since sales have not begun, residents still need an MMJ card to buy the substance. Here’s how to get yours.
How to Get a Rhode Island Medical Marijuana Card
ALL applicants must submit a copy of one of the following to verify proof of Rhode Island residence when seeking an RI medical marijuana card:
- Rhode Island driver’s license
- State ID card
- Current car insurance bill
- Voter Registration Card
- Any correspondence from another state agency
Before you begin, please note that an RI MMP (Medicare-Medicaid Plan) will not cover the cost of Rhode Island Medical Marijuana Card. Both are federal programs, and cannabis remains illegal under federal law. Therefore, neither one will pay for your medical marijuana card. Under Medicaid, you are required to opt-in to prescription drug benefits in any case.
Incidentally, Medicaid will cover Epidiolex and dronabinol because they are both FDA-approved drugs.
Step 1 – Get in Touch with an RI Healthcare Provider
Get in touch with a healthcare practitioner. Not every physician in RI is willing to complete the Practitioner Form on your behalf. Therefore, you will need to research to find cannabis-friendly doctors. The form states that you have one of the qualifying conditions and that marijuana is a safe treatment option.
Make sure you take all relevant medical history forms to your initial MMJ consultation. Most importantly, bring documentation stating that you have a qualifying medical condition. You also need a valid photo ID and the Patient Application Form.
Step 2 – Schedule a Consultation
During the consultation, which is often just 15 minutes long, the doctor will ask a few questions about your health and determine whether MMJ will help you. Once the appointment is finished, they will complete a recommendation form for medical marijuana if they decide you are eligible. Remember, since marijuana is a federally illegal substance, the doctor can’t specifically prescribe the drug.
*Also, please note that physicians (MD/DO), Physician Assistants (PA), or Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRN) licensed in Rhode Island can fill out the form. If you are using a physician (MD/DO), those licensed in Rhode Island, Connecticut, or Massachusetts, are eligible.
Step 3 – Sign Up for a Rhode Island State Government Account
The next phase involves completing the Patient Application Form online. The Rhode Island Department of Health clearly states it won’t accept forms via fax or email. You also need to provide a valid phone number and email address. This is to schedule a photo I.D. card if the department approves your application.
You should also find out if you are eligible for a reduced application fee. It may apply to applicants in receipt of one of the following:
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
- Social Security Disability Income (SSDI)
- Veteran’s Disability
- Federal Railroad Disability Benefit
If eligible, provide a photocopy of your Medicaid card or letter or other proof that you receive one of the above benefits.
Step 4 – Complete the Final Steps and Visit a Dispensary
Once you complete and submit the Practitioner Written Certification Form and the Patient Application Form, you are done. Most applications are either approved or denied within 14 days.
If approved, you are contacted to arrange an appointment to take your photograph for the ID card. Upon receiving your MMJ card, it is time to visit a licensed dispensary.
Who Can Apply for a Medical Marijuana Card in RI?
State residents aged 18+ with a qualifying condition can apply for a medical marijuana card in RI.
Cost of MMJ Card in RI
The medical marijuana card cost in RI involves a $50 application fee. You can expect to pay anywhere from $200 to $300 for the doctor’s consultation. Individuals in receipt of SNAP, Medicaid/Medicare, or Veteran’s Disability benefit from a discounted application fee of $25.
Rhode Island Medical Marijuana Card Qualifying Conditions
The list of RI medical marijuana card qualifying conditions includes:
- Cancer (or treatment including chemotherapy and radiation)
- Hepatitis C
- Cachexia (wasting syndrome)
- Severe, debilitating, chronic pain
- Severe nausea
- Seizures (including those characteristic of epilepsy)
- Severe muscle spasms (including those associated with multiple sclerosis)
- Crohn’s disease
- Alzheimer’s disease
- PTSD (must be 18 or older)
How Long Does It Take to Get a Medical Marijuana Card in RI?
According to the Rhode Island Medical Marijuana Program, patients can expect to receive their MMJ license 5 – 10 days after their application is approved. Unlike in other states, Rhode Island prints the MMJ card out once you come in for the photo ID appointment.
How to Renew My Rhode Island Medical Card?
Your Rhode Island medical marijuana card is valid for one year. Both you and your physician should receive a renewal form 30 to 60 days before the expiration date. If you don’t receive this form and know that your expiration date is coming up, email the Rhode Island Registry to request the renewal form.
Next, you must schedule an evaluation with your physician to reassess your condition. They will determine if you still require medical marijuana. You can then submit the updated paperwork to the RI Department of Health. You don’t need to get a new photo at the point of renewal. Your existing ID photo is used on your new license.
Other Information on the RI Medical Marijuana License Process
So, what else do you need to know about getting an MMJ card in Rhode Island? Here are some frequently asked questions relating to RI marijuana laws.
What Types of Cannabis Can I Purchase in RI?
Once you have an MMJ card in Rhode Island, you’ll have access to marijuana flower, edibles, extracts, tinctures, topicals, vape products, and more.
How to Get a Medical Marijuana Card in RI Online
Several companies enable you to book an online consultation with a physician. If approved, you can apply to the Rhode Island MMJ program armed with the doctor’s written recommendation. Typically, you can expect to receive a hard copy of the certification in the mail in 5-7 days.
Can I Register My Child for Medical Marijuana in RI?
Yes. However, the steps outlined above are for an adult patient applying for medical marijuana in Rhode Island. There are different processes for assigning caregivers, authorized purchasers (which we will discuss later), or minors. Applicants under the age of 18 (minors) must:
- Designate a parent or legal guardian as their primary caregiver or authorized purchaser
- Complete the appropriate sections on the application form
Where Can I Purchase MMJ in Rhode Island?
There were only three active dispensaries in Rhode Island, known as Compassion Centers, for over a decade. They were:
- Greenleaf Compassionate Care Center (Portsmouth)
- Thomas C. Slater Compassion Center (Providence)
- RISE (Warwick)
However, the rapid rise in cannabis sales prompted the state government to act. In 2019, it announced its intention to allow six new dispensaries to open in the state. In December 2020, 28 companies submitted 45 applications hoping to become part of the MMJ revolution in RI.
In October 2021, the state Department of Business Regulation announced five winners of a lottery to determine who received the license. All five companies must pay an annual licensing fee of $500,000 and open their marijuana dispensaries within nine months of being awarded their licenses.
Sweetspot Dispensary opened its doors in South Kingstown in June 2022, becoming the fourth licensed marijuana store in the state. Aura of Rhode Island became dispensary #5 in October 2022, and three more are likely to follow by early 2023.
How Much Cannabis Can I Buy & Possess?
The possession limit for MMJ patients and caregivers is currently set at 2.5 ounces of usable marijuana. According to dispensary regulations, patients can purchase up to 2.5 ounces every 15 days. However, you can also possess up to 10 ounces within your property, whether it is residential or non-residential.
Can You Grow Marijuana in Rhode Island with a Medical Marijuana Card?
Yes, although you must declare your intent to grow/cultivate marijuana on the application form. You must also register the grow location with the Rhode Island Department of Business Regulation. If approved, you can have twelve plants and twelve seedlings in a single area.
However, Rhode Island also allows two or more cardholders to cultivate marijuana in a residential or non-residential location cooperatively. In this instance, the limits for residential cultivation are 24 mature plants and 24 seedlings. For non-residential growing, the limits are 48 mature plants and 48 seedlings.
Where Can I Use My MMJ?
It is illegal to use cannabis in a public place. All MMJ patients must consume it at home or in a private residence.
Can Out-of-State MMJ Cardholders Buy Marijuana in Rhode Island?
Yes. MMJ patients from other states are welcome to buy medical cannabis in RI. This is as long as you have proof of certification from your home state.
What Are the Caregiver Rules?
In Rhode Island, MMJ patients are permitted to choose a caregiver. You may also select an authorized purchaser who can buy cannabis on your behalf. You can designate one of each. A caregiver helps you use the MMJ responsibly and is allowed up to five patients. However, an authorized purchaser can only support one patient.
Only those aged 21+ can become a caregiver or authorized purchaser in RI. They must also submit to a criminal background check. While caregivers must also provide proof of state residency, you can choose an authorized purchaser who lives outside Rhode Island. The caregiver application process takes 2-4 weeks from when the DOH receives it. Caregivers pay a $100 application fee.
What If I Lose My Medical Card in Rhode Island?
If your MMJ card is lost or stolen, you can order a replacement card from the Rhode Island Department of Health. The fee for this new card is $10.
When Did Medical Marijuana in Rhode Island Become Legal?
Senate Bill 0710, relating to medical marijuana use in Rhode Island, was first approved in June 2005. However, it was suspended for many months because of a veto. On January 3, 2006, the House ultimately overrode the veto. It passed what’s now known as the Edward O. Hawkins and Thomas C. Slater Medical Marijuana Act.
Adult-use marijuana became legal in RI in May 2022, although sales won’t begin until December 2022. At that point, adults aged 21+ will be able to buy up to an ounce of marijuana.
How to Get a Medical Marijuana Card in Providence
Finding a doctor willing to provide written certification in Providence should be fairly easy. However, you can always schedule an online consultation with a provider such as Leafwell. Once you get your MMJ card, you can visit the Thomas C. Slater Compassion Center, located at 1 Corliss Street.
MMJ Card for Veterans in RI
Military veterans needing medical marijuana in Rhode Island should undergo the standard application process. The list of qualifying conditions includes PTSD and severe, debilitating chronic pain. Veterans benefit from a $25 reduction on the application fee, and certain providers offer military discounts on consultations.
Final Thoughts on Getting a Rhode Island Medical Marijuana Card
The process of getting a Rhode Island MMJ card is quite straightforward. There were only three dispensaries at the beginning of 2022, but others have opened, and more plan to welcome marijuana consumers in 2023.
Rhode Island legalized the possession of recreational marijuana in May 2022, although legal sales won’t begin until December 2022 at the earliest. Therefore, you can only legally access marijuana in the Ocean State via an MMJ card until then. Even when adult-use weed is available, the purchasing limit is set at an ounce, well below the 2.5 ounces MMJ patients can buy.