New Rhode Island law allows marijuana retail advertisements

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Rhode Island is now allowing some advertisements by retail licensees who sell both medical and recreational marijuana.

The legislation signed Monday by Gov. Dan McKee allows advertising only by the hybrid retail license type, according to guidance published by Rhode Island’s Office of Cannabis Regulation (OCR).

The new law does not permit advertisements by “licensed cultivators, laboratories, or non-hybrid medical marijuana compassion centers, which will remain subject to the advertising restrictions present in the Medical Marijuana Program rules and regulations.”

Advertisements may run online, in broadcast media such as TV or radio, in print media such as newspapers, magazines and direct mail as well as outdoors on billboards and “street furniture.”

The ads must “clearly and conspicuously” show Rhode Island’s universal marijuana symbol in color as well as the retailer’s license number and the statement: “For Ages 21+ and medical cannabis patients.”

Prohibited marijuana advertisement content includes:

  • Suggesting any “curative or therapeutic effects” of cannabis.
  • Targeting an audience younger than 21, “including but not limited to the use of animal characters, toys, cartoon characters or similar images.”
  • Depicting cannabis consumption or use.
  • Showing “material that encourages excessive consumption.”
  • Any combination with “content relating to alcohol, nicotine, tobacco or any other substance.”
  • Showing “activities or persons in conditions under the influence of cannabis,” such as driving, “or persons who are pregnant or breastfeeding.”
  • Violating trademark laws or regulations.

The OCR also “encouraged” hybrid retail licensees “to ensure that the selected advertising medium targets an audience of which 85% of the population is reasonably expected to be 21 years of age or older.”

The new legislation comes shortly after Pawtucket marijuana retail outlet Mother Earth Wellness was ordered to remove billboard advertisements on Interstate 95.

Rhode Island’s adult-use cannabis market launched in December 2022 with some existing medical marijuana dispensaries expanding to recreational sales.

Cultivators have called for more retail locations in the face of a glut of cannabis, and new stores are said to be on the way.