How to Get a Dispensary License in Rhode Island
Looking to open a cannabis dispensary in Rhode Island? To get your business off the ground, you will first need to get a Rhode Island Cannabis License. Since RI is a relative newcomer to the legal weed industry, there are a few hoops to jump through to get where you want to be.
While the state’s medical marijuana program has been in operation since 2006, the adult-use sector was only legalized in 2022. Below is a general overview of everything to know about getting a dispensary license in Rhode Island.
3 Steps to Take Before Applying for a RI Retail Cannabis License
1. Research the local cannabis laws in Rhode Island
In RI, all 39 municipalities in the state have been allowed to state their own positions where cannabis establishments are concerned. Specific state laws will affect every aspect of opening and operating a cannabis dispensary in RI. Therefore, the first step toward gaining licensure is to do your homework and get familiar with all the affecting laws in the state and your particular municipality. A few important resources include:
- The Rhode Island Cannabis Act
- The Office of Cannabis Regulation’s Website
- The Edward O. Hawkins and Thomas C. Slater Medical Marijuana Act
- The RI Department of Business Regulation’s Website
Keep in mind, cannabis laws in RI will affect everything from where your business can be located to how it can be marketed. Therefore, it will be extremely important to have a good grasp of the laws that affect how the business operates before creating a business plan.
2. Draft a comprehensive business plan
Pulling together a comprehensive business plan is a must if you intend on obtaining one of the coveted spots to open a dispensary in Little Rhodie. The state has an advisory panel that oversees who gets approved and who doesn’t, and application openings are extremely limited. Some things to include in your business plan are:
- Details about the physical location
- Information about daily operations
- Plans regarding sourcing supplies for inventory
- Details about how you will fund your operation
- Information regarding cannabis transport, storage, and logistics
3. Secure funding for your cannabusiness
Raising capital will be one of the biggest feats when you decide you want to apply for a dispensary license in RI. The state has some of the most expensive licensing fees in the country, and will likely want to see proof of secured capital with the submitted application. Since you may not be able to get loans from traditional banks and financial institutions, other capital sources may have to be considered, such as private investors, private funding, or capital brokers.
4. Apply for your dispensary license
The Office of Cannabis Regulation oversees licensure awarding in Rhode Island. RI does indeed limit the number of licenses accepted for medical marijuana compassion centers; currently, there are only four in the state.
Licensure for adult-use facilities is slated to follow a similar path. Recreational sales are anticipated to begin after December 1st, 2022.
While licenses are not available just yet for adult-use dispensaries, applicants will be required to meet several requirements set forth by the state, such as:
- You must be a Rhode Island resident
- You must pass a background check
- You must show that the dispensary will meet the local zoning rules and bylaws or is approved by the municipality
- You must offer proof that you have fulfilled state tax obligations
- You must pay the outlined application fee
How to Apply for a Rhode Island Dispensary License in 2022
As of July 2022, applications to apply for a new compassion center license were closed, and the licensing application for adult-use dispensaries had not been fully established. The Rhode Island State Government has made it clear that the first retail licenses will be offered to existing medical cannabis dispensaries.
If you’re interested in opening a dispensary, keep an eye on the latest news and information. Also, having everything in place to apply when applications and application lotteries open up could give you a leg up on your competition.
So, be sure to have your business plan well established, compliance understood, and everything down to logistics and transport planned out.
Common FAQs About Obtaining a Cannabis Dispensary License in RI
How much does it cost to open a dispensary in RI?
The costs to open a dispensary in Rhode Island are pretty substantial. The licensing fees to open a compassion center are:
- $10,000 for just the application
- $500,000 to actually obtain a license.
While the application fee for retail adult-use cannabis has yet to be stated, the fee to actually obtain the license once the application is approved is $30,000.
On a positive note, the licensing fees in RI are used to financially support social equality initiatives in communities that wrongly suffered due to cannabis regulations of the past.
What are the different cannabis licenses available in RI?
RI offers a few different licenses that may apply to you as a cannabis retailer, depending on the nature of your business, including:
- Hybrid Cannabis Retailer License (medical and adult-use)
- General Cannabis Retailer License
- Medical Marijuana Dispensary License
Will social equity applicants take precedence in RI?
Social equity applicants are individuals who have been negatively affected by cannabis laws in the past or live in communities that have been negatively affected and wish to open a dispensary in the state.
RI has stated that they will consider social equity applicants first when it comes to recreational dispensary licenses. And, these applicants may not have to pay the full licensing fees once approved.
Building a Cannabusiness Takes a Village: We’re Here to Help
Getting started in the retail cannabis business requires a lot of planning, guidance, and the right players to help along the way. Planning for transport, logistics, delivery, and cash transport can be a major feat. Be sure to trust a well-experienced name in the industry: The Plymouth Armor Group. Reach out for more information about New England’s leading cannabis cash and product transporter.
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