scorecardresearch Skip to main content

R.I. House passes bill to allow local cannabis businesses to advertise

Massachusetts businesses selling recreational marijuana already can advertise in Rhode Island, but local companies cannot.

A billboard on Meridian Street in Chelsea, Mass.Jim Davis/GLOBE STAFF FILE

PROVIDENCE — The state House of Representatives on Tuesday voted 66 to 0 for a bill that would allow local marijuana shops to advertise their products.

Right now, Massachusetts marijuana businesses are advertising on billboards along highways in Rhode Island, but current Rhode Island law prohibits local dispensaries from placing such ads.

Nearly a year has passed since Governor Daniel J. McKee signed a bill making recreational marijuana legal in Rhode Island. Lawmakers had hoped that the Cannabis Control Commission, called for in that bill, would enact regulations allowing local marijuana shops to advertise.

But McKee has yet to appoint anyone to the three-member commission, although that legislation called for the governor to submit names to the Senate for confirmation within 40 days of the law’s May 25, 2022, effective date.


“Now that Rhode Island’s recreational cannabis industry is up and running, our dispensaries are facing a significant obstacle when competing with our neighbors in Massachusetts and Connecticut,” said state Representative Scott A. Slater, the Providence Democrat who introduced the marijuana legalization and advertising bills.

Rhode Island’s dispensaries are facing “a serious disadvantage” because Massachusetts and Connecticut cannabis businesses are advertising within Rhode Island’s borders, he said.

“This bill will correct this inequity while also supporting these new local businesses in Rhode Island by hopefully keeping Rhode Islanders from crossing the border to shop for their cannabis in neighboring states,” Slater said.

The bill would permit the state Office of Cannabis Regulation to provide forms, procedures, and requirements with respect to the advertising of cannabis products in Rhode Island.

The legislation now heads to the Senate for consideration.

Edward Fitzpatrick can be reached at Follow him @FitzProv.