Rhode Island stakeholders brainstorm for cannabis equity reform
Advocates and workers in Rhode Island’s cannabis industry are pushing for more comprehensive social equity measures as the state’s Cannabis Control Commission begins to draft regulations for the burgeoning sector. During a recent meeting at Lovewell Farms in Hopkinton, roughly 30 stakeholders discussed a range of issues, including reducing financial barriers for social equity applicants and ensuring transparent approval processes at the municipal level. According to reporting from Rhode Island Current, the state’s existing cannabis law allows for a total of 24 retail licenses. Of these, six are reserved for social equity applicants and another six for worker-owned cooperatives. However, the high entry costs, including a $125,000 fee to the Department of Business Regulation and a hefty $500,000 annual licensing fee, pose a significant challenge for many.
The gathering explored various solutions like lowering fees for social equity applicants and implementing provisional licenses for startups. Drawing from experiences in neighboring states like Connecticut and Massachusetts, the advocates aim to present finalized recommendations to the commission by the end of November and to the General Assembly by January. The overarching goal is to refine the concept of social equity in Rhode Island’s cannabis industry, focusing on workforce composition, ownership structures, and redirecting state-collected fees towards social equity initiatives.