AccuSource Blog

Island Time: Rhode Island Legalizes Recreational Marijuana

Rhode Island recently became the nineteenth state to legalize cannabis for adult recreational use. The Rhode Island Cannabis Act was signed into law on May 24, 2022 and became effective immediately. Adults who are 21 years old and over are able to use cannabis under the Act. Specifically, an adult can possess up to one ounce of cannabis. Adults are also permitted to grow up to six plants for personal use, but only three of those plants can be mature. An adult can also possess up to ten ounces of cannabis in his or her personal residence. While recreational use is now legal, retail sales are not expected to launch until December 1, 2022 or later. Additionally, the Act provides benefits for those who have past records related to certain cannabis offenses. The Act automatically expunges prior civil records as well as misdemeanor and felony convictions for possession of marijuana that would now be decriminalized under the law. All eligible records will be expunged by July 1, 2024.


The Rhode Island Cannabis Act outlines some of the impacts on employers. First, employers are not required to accommodate the use or possession of marijuana, or being under the influence of marijuana, in any workplace or other location where work is performed. This includes remote work. Rhode Island employers can take adverse employment action based on an individual’s violation of a workplace drug policy or because he or she was working under the influence. However, employers are generally prohibited from terminating or taking other disciplinary action against an employee solely based on his or her private, lawful use of marijuana outside of work and as long as he or she was not working under the influence. A positive drug test will likely not be enough unless there was evidence of current impairment at the time of the drug test.


There are exceptions under the law, including if use outside of work is prohibited by a collective bargaining agreement or if the employer is a federal contractor. Employers may also be exempt if they are subject to a federal law or regulation and could lose a monetary or licensing benefit if they do not terminate or discipline the employee. If an employee works in a job that is “hazardous, dangerous or essential to public welfare and safety,” an employer can prohibit the use of cannabis within the 24-hour period prior to scheduled work. It is important to note that the Act expressly limits an employer’s ability to rely on off-duty cannabis use in making certain employment decisions, so Rhode Island employers should review the new law carefully. If you would like AccuSource to provide a complimentary review of your current background screening compliance program, please contact us at marketing@accusource-online.com.

Jennifer Daimon, Esq. | CIPM

Jennifer Daimon, Esq. | CIPM

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