Last night’s Charlestown Town Council meeting focused on potential cultivation and sale of cannabis in Charlestown.
Matthew Santacroce, Interim Deputy Director of Rhode Island’s Department of Business Regulation, gave a presentation on the Rhode Island Cannabis Act and its options for Charlestown’s participation in it.
Rhode Island state law regulates the newly developing cannabis industry, but each town votes on how local cannabis sales would be managed. To that end, on the November 8 ballot, Charlestown voters will be asked, “Shall new cannabis-related licenses for businesses involved in the cultivation, manufacture, laboratory testing and for the retail sale of adult recreational use of cannabis be issued in the Town of Charlestown?”
A vote of “yes” would result in three percent of revenues from such sales going straight to the town. Santacroce estimated $2-3 million in annual revenues to local governments. The rest of the tax has a ten percent special cannabis sales tax going to the state as well as a seven percent Rhode Island sales tax, for a total of 20 percent. Rhode Island’s law divides the spoils similarly to Massachusetts in an effort to equalize competition.
If Charlestown were to vote “no,” they would forfeit the local revenue share. The town could, at a later date, resubmit the question to electors, but only upon passage of a joint resolution by the state General Assembly.
Twenty-four new licenses will be granted in Rhode Island, with four licenses in each of six zones across the state. Of these four, the state will set aside one for a worker-owned cooperative; one for an historically disadvantaged entity, such as someone who had been convicted of cannabis possession in the past; and one for anyone of the general population.
If Charlestown approves the measure, they would have to adopt ordinances and by-laws concerning time, place and manner of cannabis operations; restrictions on licensed cultivation, processing and manufacturing that might cause public nuisance; restrictions on signage; and bans or restrictions on cannabis smoking/vaping in public spaces.
Santacroce said that retail sales are slated to begin December 1, 2022.
Current medical marijuana sales will be conducted at the same locations as recreational sales but different entrances or partitions may have to be used. Under the predecessor to the current law allowing recreational use, medical marijuana has been legal in Rhode Island since 2007. According to the Rhode Island Department of Health, there are nearly 17,000 registered patient cardholders in the state; 67 licensed cultivators , and five licensed “compassion centers.”
Current Rhode Island law allows recreational possession of one ounce of cannabis; 10 ounces in a residence, and three home-grown plants.
Block Island Sound Bikeway Extension Development
In New Business, the Council unanimously approved a collaboration with South Kingstown to develop a detailed plan for the route and signage of a section of the Block Island Sound Bikeway through Charlestown.
Litter Pick-Up Day
On Saturday, October 15 the Town will hold its Fall 2022 Litter Pick-Up Day from 8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. Residents are welcome to gather with friends to pick a road of their choice for litter pick-up. Free bags are available until the 15th at Town Hall (8:30 am to 4:30 pm) or at Compass Hardware at 8 Ridgewood Road, 8 am — 5 pm (8 am — noon on Sundays).
The transfer station and fire stations will accept trash at no charge on October 15th from 8 AM to 4 PM.
The Council reminded voters that applications to receive a mail-ballot must be submitted by Tuesday, October 18, 2022 and are available online at vote.sos.ri.gov or at the Town Clerk’s Office at 4540 South County Trail.
Early in-person voting will be held during regular business hours from Wednesday, October 19 through Monday, November 7, 2022 in the Council Chambers in Town Hall. Questions about voting may be directed to the Town Clerk’s Office at (401) 364-1200.
The full meeting agenda and video recording of the meeting can be found here.