Rhode Island’s advertising rules for cannabis are causing a disparity with neighboring Massachusetts, where operators benefit from billboard promotions. This has highlighted the uneven playing field, with RI counterparts facing restrictive regulations.
Dispensary owner Joe Pakuris, who operates near the Massachusetts border, estimates that he would enjoy a 30% increase in sales if he was given the same advertising opportunities. Unfortunately, strict rules in Rhode Island threaten dispensaries with severe fines of up to $10,000 a day and potential license repercussions if they advertise on billboards.
Pakuris, owner of Mother Earth Wellness in Pawtucket, RI, erected billboards atop a nearby building to advertise his dispensary’s location along I-95. But Rhode Island’s Department of Business Regulation (DBR) warned him that cannabis companies are prohibited from advertising and that he could face fines and license repercussions.
Pakuris argues that he should have the right to promote his location without infringing on the ban. Despite his objections, DBR insists on compliance with existing regulations established for the state’s medical marijuana program, but Pakuris maintains that the rules can be amended as they are harming the industry.
RI Cannabis Developments
The state is waiting for the formation of the Cannabis Control Commission that could potentially revise the rules. In the meantime, new appointments have been made by Rhode Island Governor Dan McKee, who is seeking approval from lawmakers. The House has already passed a proposal allowing advertising temporarily (House Bill 5829). DBR, while supporting leveling the playing field through advertising, insists on compliance with existing regulations until changes are officially implemented.
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