Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo submitted a budget amendment which, if approved, would allow six more medical cannabis dispensaries in the state – bringing the total to nine – while increasing dispensary application fees from $250 to $5,000 and the annual licensing fees from $5,000 to $25,000, the Providence Journal reports. The plan, an effort to raise $1.5 million in general revenue, is being opposed by the three existing dispensaries in the state who argue there is no need to increase operations.
Under the proposal, the three existing centers, which operate in Providence, Warwick, and Portsmouth, would be allowed to operate a second location. It also removes the requirement that dispensaries must operate as a nonprofit.
Norman Birenbaun, the state’s medical cannabis regulator, said the administration moved to increase the number of dispensaries because of dispensary-to-patient ratios. Rhode Island has the highest number of patients per allowed number of dispensaries of any state.
Additionally, lawmakers approved a measure creating a cannabis study commission that will explore to what effect adult-use legalization would have in the state. The House approved a 19-member panel that is expected to make recommendations to the General Assembly by March 2018. Although the measure easily passed the House, 67-2, cannabis proponents called the move “a flawed delay tactic.”
Of the $1.5 million increasing dispensary counts and fees is expected to bring, $603,000 would be used to support medical cannabis program operations.