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Rhode Island Drug Testing Laws and Regulations

Applicability: Law applies to physicians, patients and caregivers. Quantity Allowed: 12 plants and/or 2.5oz of usable Marijuana.
State: Rhode Island
Statute of Order: R.I. Gen. Laws ยง28-6.5-1 et seq.
Covered Employers: Public and private employers.
Applicant Testing: Applicant testing is authorized in the private sector after offer of employment has been made. In public sector, testing is authorized for jobs involving public safety or when required by federal law.
Employee Testing: Employee testing is authorized on reasonable suspicion of substance abuse and in conjunction with rehabilitation program. Random testing is prohibited.
Conditions & Methods: Confirming test in case of positive findings, privacy for employee in collection of specimen, and opportunity for employee to rebut test findings.
Important Bulletpoints:
  • Employers need to promulgate a drug abuse prevention policy that is in strict compliance with the provisions of the law. An employer who violates these provisions will be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor that carries a fine of up to $1,000 and/or a jail sentence of up to 1 year.
  • There are no regulations particular to how initial testing may be performed but confirmation tests must always be performed by federally certified testing laboratories only.
  • Employers requiring any physical examination as a condition of employment must pay for the cost of examination whether or not the prospective employee is hired. The cost of confirmation testing which may be done by an independent authorized laboratory at the employee’s request must also be at the employer’s expense.
  • Pre-employment drug testing for State and municipal agencies or bureaus is mandatory and applicable only to law enforcement officers, correctional officers and firefighters as well as for positions that are required by federal regulations to undergo testing for substance abuse.
  • Employment required drug testing is authorized only for reasonable grounds based on the employee’s job performance and observations of the employee’s appearance, behavior or speech that shows the use of controlled substance impairs the employee’s ability to perform the job.
  • Employees who are initially tested positive for controlled substances may not be terminated by their employers but must rather be referred to a substance abuse professional for assistance. Follow-up testing may be required by the employer and if such tests indicate continued use of controlled substances, the employer may then proceed with terminating the employee.
Medical Marijuana Law:

On June 24, 2005, the House passed SB 0710. On June 28, 2005, it was approved by the Senate. The following day, June 29, the governor of RI rejected the bill. The next day, June 30, the Senate overrode the governor's veto.1 On January 3, 2006, the Edward O. Hawkins and Thomas C. Slater Medical Marijuana Act was created when the House overrode the veto. Thus this action completely eliminated criminal penalties for qualified and registered patients on the possession and use of medical marijuana across the state.

Senate Bill 791 pertains to the removal of the revoke date for RI's Medical Marijuana Act. This bill was approved on June 21, 2007. The legal definition of the term primary caregiver was also addressed in this bill.

H5359 was approved on February 10, 2009 and modified the Edward O. Hawkins and Thomas C. Slater Medical Marijuana Act. This pertains to the administration, creation, and regulation of medical marijuana dispensary or compassion care centers. All registered compassion centers may acquire, manufacture, cultivate, possess, transfer, deliver, transport, dispense or supply cannabis and related supplies to qualified and registered patients and their primary caregivers. This bill became effective on June 16, 2009.2

On April 19, 2013, the Thomas C. Slater Compassion Center was established. It is the first stated licensed dispensary.

Patients with registration IDs and their main caregivers are allowed by law to cultivate and own usable cannabis of up five ounces and up to 12 plants.

Qualifying Medical Conditions


• Cancer


• Multiple Sclerosis

• Parkinson's disease

• Epilepsy

• Damaged spinal cord nervous tissue

• Inflammatory bowel disease

• Huntington's disease

• Neuropathies

• Crohn's disease

• Intractable seizures


• Glaucoma

• Sickle cell anemia

• Austism

• Intractable or severe chronic neuropathic pain


• Smoking marijuana is not permissible as a means of therapy.

• Smoking Marijuana is not allowed in public places, school grounds, in a school bus or any public mode of transportation, in any correctional facility, or in any licensed drug treatment facility in Rhode Island.

• A person who works under the influence of marijuana shall be liable of malpractice

• It is not permissible to drive any vehicle, aircraft or motorboat when under the influence of cannabis.

• There is nothing in this law that says that a private health insurer or government medical assistance program shall reimburse a person's medical marijuana expenses.

• An employer is not mandated to accommodate an employee's medical marijuana use in the workplace.

• Medical marijuana extractions created by using flammable, compressed gas as solvent will not be allowed

Recreational Marijuana Law

Rhode Island lawmakers will once again try to pass a law that will legalize marijuana. For seven consecutive years, Rhode Island lawmakers failed to pass a bill that will legalize marijuana. Called the Cannabis Regulation, Control and Taxation Act, the bill, if passed, will legalize recreational marijuana use for those aged 21 and above.


• It is illegal to operate any vehicle, aircraft or motorboat while under the influence of cannabis.

• It is illegal for a prisoner to use and possess marijuana.

• It is not allowed to possess marijuana in places such as detention centers, country prison, state prison, reformatory and other correctional facility.

• Smoking marijuana in public places is not allowed.

• Employers, landlords and motel/hotel owners are not required to make special accommodation for the recreational use of marijuana.

While it is still illegal for most adults in Rhode Island to use, possess, or cultivate cannabis, the Ocean State is one of 20 across the country that have decided to no longer jail individuals for simple possession.

In 2012, an MPP-led lobbying effort culminated in passage of a law that reduced the penalty for possessing up to an ounce of marijuana to a $150 civil fine. If the individual is under 18, their parent or legal guardian will be notified, and the minor will be required to complete a drug awareness and education program. A third possession offense within 18 months would result in criminal charges.

Effects on Workplace Drug Testing

Federal law requires those employed in some safety-sensitive jobs to undergo drug testing, but it does not require or prohibit drug testing in the workplace.

Business owners in Rhode Island are not required to conduct drug test on applicants and employees. However, employers may require applicants to undergo drug testing in the workplace if it is a condition for employment.

Employees may be required to undergo drug test if there are grounds to do so such as working under the influence of a controlled substance.


How Obtained: Cultivation of cannabis for medical use. Other sources for cannabis are not specified.
Liability Protections: Patients and Caregivers are not subject to arrest, prosecution, criminal or other penalties and property forfeiture. No school, employer or landlord may refuse to enroll, employ or lease, or otherwise penalize solely for his/her status as a registered, qualified patient or registered primary caregiver.
Statutory Requirements for Authorized Use: Registry card required. Upon application, a medical practitioner must recommend that medicating the patient with cannabis will do more good than harm for the patient's condition. Before a patient can receive an RI Department of Health registered card, a written certification from a practitioner registered with Department of Health is required and must be renewed annually.
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Material on these pages (state drug testing laws and drug testing regulations) is provided for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal, medical or technical advice. This drug testing related information is not intended as substitute for obtaining legal advice from attorney, or a relevant medical technical or financial professional. TestCountry is not a law firm or a legal agency, therefore cannot guarantee the accuracy of this content. Drug testing laws are collected from legal and/or state sources, and it may or may not be valid by the time you are viewing it. Any views or opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of Confirm Biosciences Inc. DBA TestCountry.


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