Updated on May 13, 2021.
Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer
According to the Providence Journal Report, the business regulation department had announced that it would begin accepting applications on July 17. The applications will be for six new dispensary licenses. New outlets will triple the number of retail outlets in the state. Rhode Island currently has a market of over $60 million.
Currently, there are only three licensed Rhode Island dispensaries. One is in Portsmouth, another in Warwick, and the last one in Providence. According to Marijuana Business Factbook, these three dispensaries manage to service 18,000 patients. This number is growing, hence the need for more MMJ licenses in Rhode Island.
The application period will continue up to December 15, according to the news outlet. The state regulators want to give ample time for applicants to select their locations. They also want the local government to have to time hold public hearings.
Rhode Island Issues Cannabis Business Licenses by Lottery
The announcement was that the new licensees would get selected through a lottery. Each new dispensary will obtain a permit for each of the geographical zones required. On the date that the licenses will be awarded, there has been no word on that yet.
“We’re going to have more information about the process. Once we have the chance to access the volume of applicants,” Department of Business Regulation Director Pamela Toro told the Providence Journal. “Could be the beginning of the year.”
The Business Regulation Director further added that the six new additional dispensaries must meet the location specifications required by law. Also, the new winning licenses will likely not be operational until the end of 2021.
Another condition about the new dispensaries is that these dispensaries will not grow their marijuana, unlike the existing three. These new dispensaries will have to get their product from 56 stand-alone cultivators. These cultivators are within the state as of the second quarter.
The condition will not be forever. Once these new Rhode Island dispensaries begin operations, the situation could change. The regulations include the possibility of an opportunity to grow. Still, the state regulators are taking their time about that.
The Legislative Battle Over Vertically Integrated Licenses in Rhode Island
The licensing plan has been a battle. There was a power battle between Governor Gina Raimondo and Rhode Island’s legislative leaders. The legislative officials objected to the plan by the state for retail-only dispensaries. The Governor’s decision stood even after the objections.
The stand-alone cultivators, too, had something to say. They argued that additional vertically integrated dispensaries could put them out of business. According to Antonio Barone, Rhode Island Cannabis Association treasurer, state-licensed cultivators currently serve three dispensaries.
Improving Accessibility for Patients
Antonio Barone also expressed his appreciation for the improved accessibility for the patients. That is once the six additional marijuana dispensaries will be operational. Patients will not drive for an hour to reach their nearest dispensary. There will be reachable ones within their location. An important accommodation for health equity for low-income patients in RI.
The new upcoming medical cannabis dispensaries are one of the best things for Rhode Island. Come 2021, RI residents will have six new medical marijuana dispensaries to solve the accessibility problem.