Police prepare for big turnout on 1st day of adult marijuana sales in Rhode Island

WARWICK, R.I. (WLNE) — Dec. 1 marks the start of the adult sale of marijuana in Rhode Island, six months after the Cannabis Act was signed into law by Gov. Dan McKee.

That means that as of Thursday, anyone over the age of 21 will now be able to purchase pot legally in the Ocean State.

Last week, five dispensaries across the state were certified by McKee and the Rhode Island Department of Business Regulation to sell marijuana starting Thursday. The five locations are:

  • Aura of Rhode Island in Central Falls
  • Thomas C. Slater Center in Providence
  • Mother Earth Wellness in Pawtucket
  • Greenleaf Compassionate Care Center in Portsmouth
  • RISE Warwick in Warwick

At RISE, which is located on Jefferson Boulevard, a high volume of customers is anticipated for the dispensary’s first day of adult sales.

Warwick Police Capt. Robert Hart said police and the dispensary have worked together in the weeks leading up to adult sales commencing, to implement a shuttle service for customers to avoid any traffic issues.

The shuttle service will pick up customers at a nearby parking lot on Jefferson Boulevard, where the old Citizens Bank was located and take customers to and from the dispensary.

“Jefferson Boulevard is a very busy street in Warwick. [There’s] a lot of businesses,” Hart said. “So, we really wanted to make sure we had a plan in place that everyone had equal access to the roadway, everyone was safe, and that everyone can have a successful business day.”

At RISE, sales begin at 6 a.m. Thursday, after a ribbon cutting celebrating the start of the recreational sales at 5:45 a.m. The other four dispensary locations in Rhode Island will also start adult sales Thursday.

However, although recreational sales are just set to begin in December, recreational use has been legal since May 25, after McKee signed Cannabis Act legislation, which legalized pot.

In the six months since its legalization, Hart told ABC 6 News Warwick police have worked to identify better ways to recognize high drivers, in an effort to keep roads safe.

“[We] have to go by the officer’s observations of impaired driving and unsafe driving. Their observations of the person’s behavior,” Hart said. “So, it’s a little more difficult but we definitely are going to be working to make it happen.”

Hart also added Warwick police will have an increased presence at the dispensary over the next few days, with an officer at the store at all hours the dispensary is open, as well as private security hired by the dispensary for the first few days of adult sales.

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