Rhode Island has set its date to officially enter our nation’s burgeoning and highly profitable industrial hemp marketplace. On October 9, 2018, the Rhode Island Department of Business Regulation (DBR) will begin accepting license applications from aspiring growers and handlers (license holders who process industrial help commodities). DBR is the State’s chief regulatory body that is granted authority for licensing and oversight of the program, pursuant to The Hemp Growth Act, Rhode Island General Laws § 2-26-1 et seq.
Much excitement surrounds the launch of Rhode Island’s hemp program. The hemp industry is expected to double in the United States over the next three years into a multi-billion-dollar market.  The anticipated passage of further federal legislation to broaden the acceptability of U.S. grown and processed hemp is believed to further expand the marketplace and decrease demand for foreign hemp imported to the States from China and others.  It comes as no surprise then, that many will move quickly to be in at the ground floor in state programs like that of Rhode Island’s to obtain favorable market share.
Having a professionally drafted and thoroughly vetted application will best ensure quick processing and acceptance of hemp grower and handler applications with the Department.  Indeed, the Department itself has explicitly recommended that “all potential Applicants thoroughly review the Act and the Regulations governing license application procedures and licensee requirements” before attempting to advance an application through the State’s regulatory process.  Engaging legal counsel with experience with the Department’s regulatory process, and broader experience within the hemp industry would be most prudent. PLDO Partner Benjamin L. Rackliffe is a leading authority on licensing, compliance and regulatory law regarding the cannabis and hemp industry and has successfully advised investors and owners of cannabis facilities and hemp farms in Rhode Island and throughout the New England region. He can be reached at 401-824-5100 or email brackliffe@pldolaw.com.

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