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Law Rhode Island

Baron23

Well-Known Member
Rhode Island Cannabis Legalization Proponents Push for Vote

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Rhode Island state legislators hoping to legalize adult-use cannabis say they have enough support to pass a bill if it comes to a vote this spring in the Democrat-controlled General Assembly.


Rep. Scott Slater, a Providence Democrat and legalization proponent, said taking action this year would allow Rhode Island to have regulations and a new source of tax revenue in place before retail cannabis stores open over the border in Massachusetts. He said Rhode Island has already strengthened the way it regulates and taxes medical marijuana plants, so “flipping the switch” to allow recreational use wouldn’t be hard.

“We’ll definitely be able to beat Massachusetts to the punch,” Slater said. “They seem to keep delaying it.” (cont)
 

Baron23

Well-Known Member
Rhode Island governor and others call for delay in legalizing marijuana
They support legislation to create a 15-member study commission to make recommendations to lawmakers by March 1, 2018
Published: Apr 18, 2017, 7:40 am • Updated: about 5 hours agohttp://www.thecannabist.co/2017/04/18/rhode-island-marijuana-legalization-delay/77594/#disqus_thread

By The Associated Press

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Rhode Island’s governor is calling on lawmakers to delay passing legislation that would legalize recreational marijuana use.

The Providence Journal reports Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo’s administration has sent a letter to the House Judiciary Committee saying they instead support legislation to create a 15-member study commission to make recommendations to lawmakers by March 1, 2018.

The Journal says the letter is signed by the heads of the state health department, business regulation department and department of behavioral healthcare, developmental disabilities and hospitals.


Raimondo has previously voiced concerns about edible forms of marijuana that can be marketed to children. Marijuana advocates complain the study commission bill is a delay tactic.

California, Massachusetts, Maine and Nevada voters approved recreational use of marijuana last year, joining Colorado, Washington, Oregon and Alaska.

Ah...a call for yet another overpaid, underperformaning blue ribbon fucking panel....hmmmm, there must a politician in the area. The same tired knee jerk reaction..."oh, let's form and fund a fucking commission....screw listening to the citizens"

Well, you have heard my advise before....vote early, vote often, and vote these assholes out of office.
 

Baron23

Well-Known Member
Judge: Company discriminated against medical marijuana user

By Associated Press May 23 at 7:51 PM
PROVIDENCE, R.I. — A judge has ruled against a Rhode Island textile company accused of discriminating against a woman when she was denied an internship because she uses medical marijuana to treat migraine headaches.

The Superior Court judge’s decision released Tuesday found that the Westerly-based Darlington Fabrics Corp. had violated the state’s Hawkins-Slater Medical Marijuana Act, which prevents discrimination against card-carrying medical marijuana users.

The complaint said Christine Callaghan, who was a graduate student at the University of Rhode Island, negotiated a paid internship with Darlington Fabrics in 2014 but lost it after disclosing she held a medical marijuana card.

The case was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Rhode Island.

Neither Darlington Fabrics nor its lawyer returned a phone call seeking comment Tuesday.

Hopefully we will see more rulings like this.
 

Baron23

Well-Known Member
More medical marijuana dispensaries could be coming to Rhode Island

Proposed legislation would double the number of compassion centers from three to six

Published: May 30, 2017, 10:22 am • Updated: about 2 hours ago

By The Associated Press

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Some medical marijuana proponents in Rhode Island are seeking to expand the number of dispensaries in the state.

The Providence Journal reports that state law currently allows for up to three dispensaries. A proposal that would double that number has been discussed at hearings held by state House and Senate committees but it’s unclear whether it will be addressed this session.

State Sen. Stephen Archambault, a Smithfield Democrat and supporter of the bill, says people will be able to get medical marijuana from the dispensaries, called compassion centers, “more easily and at a decreased cost” if the bill passes.

Existing dispensaries have argued that more competition could kill their operations. Rhode Island last year enacted reforms aimed at improving oversight of its decade-old medical marijuana system.
 

Baron23

Well-Known Member
Rhode Island governor seeks to expand medical marijuana program


Rhode Island’s governor is making another push to expand the state’s medical marijuana program.

Gov. Gina Raimondo’s $9.4 billion state budget plan for the 2019 fiscal year includes:

  • Establishing 15 more medical marijuana dispensaries.
  • Adding acute pain to the list of MMJ qualifying conditions.
  • Allowing Massachusetts and Connecticut cardholders to buy medical cannabis in Rhode Island.
The governor wants to increase the number of dispensaries from three in order to provide more patient access to MMJ and because she projects a $5.1 million increase in revenue from such a move.

However, the three dispensaries currently operating under state law have resisted the creation of additional MMJ businesses. They argue there’s no demonstrated need for more dispensaries.

The legislature will review the governor’s proposals and present its plan before the 2019 fiscal year begins in July.

The governor has expressed reservations about recreational marijuana, but she has previously floated the idea of expanding Rhode Island’s MMJ program.
 

Baron23

Well-Known Member
This is the same BS that MD licensees are claiming...that increasing competition will put them out of business....but in my view, that's true only if you are NOT competitive in which case...tough.

In MD's MMJ program, there are dispensaries that have opened that have MMJ business in other states and/or have a great deal of experience, understand the product, and understand their customer base and its requirements. Then there are other who, although they did win a license, are completely clueless and their going out of business (if that indeed happens) will be a blessing and allow their license slot to go to somebody who knows which way is up.

Just saying, fuck the protected monopolies (but then, I'm a fan of capitalism).


Medical marijuana: Dispensary offers R.I. $5M to limit competition


Medical marijuana dispensaries say adding outlets would threaten the sustainability of their businesses — which they have spent million of dollars upgrading to meet the state’s changing needs and requirements.

PROVIDENCE — “Gifting” is a common practice in the medical marijuana program, allowing growers to give away their medicine to needy recipients.

But Chris Reilly, a spokesman for the state’s largest medical marijuana dispensary, had something else in mind last week when he told some House lawmakers that the Thomas C. Slater Compassion Center was considering giving Rhode Island something:

Maybe $5 million.

The offer came with a condition. State regulators would have to change their plan to hike the number of state-licensed pot dispensaries from the existing three to 15.

“We’re very sensitive to the state and its challenges,” Reilly told members of the House Finance Committee. “And if there is a way to find the $5 million that you need to plug the budget hole that you need for the coming fiscal year, we’d like to be part of the solution.”

Reilly’s offer seemed to exemplify just how serious a threat the state’s three dispensaries see Gov. Gina Raimondo’s plan to expand and better regulate the booming medical marijuana program.

Regulators say the plan would increase competition among dispensaries, lower prices, offer a wider array of tested marijuana strains and improve access for patients, whose numbers keep growing.

The plan would also generate at least $5 million annually in state revenue.

But dispensary representatives say the expansion would be the first of a one-two punch combination threatening the sustainability of their businesses — which they have spent million of dollars in recent years upgrading to meet the state’s changing needs and requirements.

The second punch is the start of recreational pot sales in Massachusetts in July.

While Rhode Island regulators say they don’t expect to lose much business to Massachusetts — Bay State marijuana will be more expensive to buy and by law will be less potent, they say — the dispensaries are worried.

Massachusetts competition “is a market force that’s going to strain our program considerably,” Reilly told lawmakers, noting that he knew of five proposed marijuana stores for Attleboro alone.

(Attleboro officials told The Journal that so far they have issued required letters of “non-opposition” for only two businesses.)

Seth Bock, the CEO of the Greenleaf Compassionate Care Center, said that expanding from three to 15 dispensaries “would almost ensure that one, maybe two, dispensaries would go out of business.”

“We’ve built an infrastructure around a volume of patients which for us, if eliminated, would mean we couldn’t operate,” Bock said.

Bock said 44 cents of every dollar the Portsmouth dispensary takes in goes toward surcharges and state and federal taxes.

Further, because the federal government considers marijuana an illegal drug, dispensaries can’t file as federal nonprofits or take normal business deductions.

(Many dispensaries around the country, however, get around that prohibition by hiring management firms which can take those tax credits and return savings to principles in the company. Also, because they are not federal nonprofits, dispensaries are not subject to standard federal disclosure requirements. Therefore they are shielded from having to file publicly viewable tax returns.)

In an interview Bock said he had hoped the state would approve home delivery of medical marijuana to help blunt expected competition from Massachusetts recreational sales. But state regulators say the required technology to track those deliveries isn’t ready yet.

Terence Fracassa, a principle with the Summit Medical Compassion Center in Warwick, questioned the need for more dispensaries since the existing three are currently meeting patient need and could further expand their growing facilities if needed.

And he described the difficulty of the last several years of maneuvering in the shifting medical pot landscape: a costly state moratorium on the program after the federal government threatened to prosecute medical marijuana growers; changing limits on how many plants dispensaries could grow; and now another change in suppliers, from home growers who supplied half of all marijuana sold by dispensaries, to state-licensed cultivators.

“We did get into the market, and we’re not crying and we take the good with the bad,” said Fracassa. “But it has been a little bit like a pinball in a pinball machine.”

State regulators differ with the dispensaries over whether the state’s patient need is being met.

In an interview, Norman Birenbaum, the state’s top medical marijuana regulator, said that the 60,000 tagged plants growing in private homegrows — compared with 10,000 plants growing in the three dispensaries — are a true indicator of need.

They exist because those private grows offer a wider variety of marijuana strains, better consistency and sometimes better quality than the dispensaries — all important factors to a patient.

But some of that product feeds into the black market. That’s why Raimondo’s proposal calls for limiting home grows and encouraging patients to use the two dozen newly licensed cultivators whose products eventually will be tested for contaminants and closely controlled.

Regarding the cash offer from Chris Reilly of the Slater dispensary, Birenbaum said, “From a business standpoint I understand the impulse to continue to protect the market share that they have.” But the “proposed reforms are not being offered to fill a gap in the budget. They are not being offered to raise revenue or push the industry in a particular direction. They are being offered to address the very real problems we have in the medical marijuana program.”

The expansion proposal would also offer the three existing dispensaries a new business opportunity, Birenbaum said. They could grow marijuana for their competitors to sell.
 

Baron23

Well-Known Member

New Rhode Island bill would legalize cannabis for adults


A senator in Rhode Island is introducing a bill that would legalize marijuana by following the framework set by neighboring Massachusetts.

Sen. Joshua Miller, a Democrat, introduced the bill Wednesday. The proposal would create a system to tax and regulate marijuana in Rhode Island that mirrors the system in Massachusetts.

Voters there approved legalizing marijuana in November 2016. Recreational sales will become legal in July.

Miller’s bill would establish a 10-percent tax on marijuana sales in addition to the state’s sales tax. It would also allow for towns and cities to implement an additional tax up to three percent.

Miller says Rhode Island will miss out on revenue when Rhode Islanders cross into Massachusetts to buy marijuana.

Bills to legalize marijuana in Rhode Island have stalled in previous legislative sessions.
 

Baron23

Well-Known Member
Oh, Mom's going to spank me for language but I hardly have words to describe my contempt for these rapacious, greedy, motherfucking politicians. This is medical program we are talking about. Where do these "I've never made an honest buck in my life" politicians think the additional $245,000.00 per license is going to come from. Profit? FUCK NO!

Its going to come out of the hide of the patients who will pay for it via increased prices for their purchases. Purchases of medicine NOT covered by any insurance or other program.

Do these shitheads think they live on a remote island. They can price themselves out of the market and their patients will just go to MA. It aint' that far of a drive.


New Rhode Island budget raises MMJ companies’ annual renewal fees from $5k to $250k


Rhode Island medical cannabis retailers will likely see the cost of their annual renewal fees increase fifty-fold — from $5,000 to $250,000 — after lawmakers approved a new state budget, according to a Providence Journal report. Gov. Gina Raimondo, a Democrat, is expected to sign the budget this week.

Last year, Gov. Raimondo called for major expansions to the state’s medical cannabis industry. She proposed adding 12 new dispensaries to the program and raising retailer license renewals from $5,000 to $25,000. These expansions were opposed by the states’ existing three dispensaries, who argued that adding dispensaries to the state’s model would cut into the patient bases of existing retailers.

The House Finance Committee also disagreed and ultimately shot down the governor’s plan, though lawmakers adopted and dramatically expanded the increase in license renewal fees.

“The proposal would have created far too many centers. I don’t know what the right number is, but the whole system needs a comprehensive review before taking any further action. I don’t want to make a decision that may have to be pulled back.” — Rhode Island House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello, via Providence Journal

While Rhode Island‘s dispensaries now won’t have to deal with new competition, the spike in license renewal fees is sure to be felt by existing operators.

Meanwhile, Magdalena Andreozzi of the Rhode Island Cannabis Association supported the idea of adding dispensaries and argued that the expansions would have generated more than 400 jobs and roughly $1.5 million in taxes.

“(The cultivators) have purchased the licenses, paid the necessary fees, gotten zoning variances, paid for their leases and the expense of building out [a grow location], and now there is no market for them to sell their product. It’s going to be a real rude awakening for some of these new licensees.” — Magdalena Andreozzi, member of the Rhode Island Cannabis Association
 

Baron23

Well-Known Member
"But for Raimondo’s administration, those restrictions were common-sense policies that would ensure the public health and safety of Rhode Islanders"

As soon as you hear a politician saying "common-sense policies" run like hell because you are about to be fucked on one end and have it jammed down your throat on the other.

God, I hate politicians.


Many expected Rhode Island to legalize recreational marijuana this year. What happened?


Marijuana advocates had high hopes for Rhode Island this year — optimistic that the state would follow in the footsteps of its northern neighbor and legalize marijuana for all adults. But a different narrative played out in New England’s smallest state when lawmakers left out recreational marijuana from the budget unveiled last week, and decided only to increase the number of medical marijuana businesses.

Governor Gina Raimondo’s proposed budget last winter included a plan to legalize recreational marijuana, which would have allowed the possession, use, and sale of recreational marijuana. The plan also included some limits, like prohibiting home growing.

Turned off by those restrictions, the marijuana community has been conflicted, supportive of the governor’s intentions but discouraged that the proposal would not give them the same freedoms most other states give, including Massachusetts.

By the time the Legislature’s draft budget was released last week, recreational marijuana legalization was nowhere to be found. In its place was the addition of six “compassion centers,” the name for the state’s medical marijuana dispensaries.

The budget is set for a full House vote on Friday, to be taken up by the Senate next week.

“When the governor’s proposal came out, she came out with a proposal to legalize cannabis, but her proposal also had a lot of changes to the medical program,” said Providence state Representative Scott Slater, a longtime proponent of marijuana legalization. “It wasn’t that legalization wasn’t warmly received. It was [Raimondo’s] proposal to change a lot of the dynamics that are already going on.”

Slater is also the son of former state Representative Thomas Slater, whose name is attached to the 2006 law that legalized medical marijuana in Rhode Island. One of the state’s three medical marijuana dispensaries is also named after him.

Raimondo’s proposal would have prohibited recreational consumers from growing any of their own marijuana plants at home, and created requirements for medical patients who want to grow their own. Under current law, patients can grow their own plants, as long as they purchase tracking tags from the state. Raimondo’s proposal would have limited home growing to patients who can prove to the state they have a specific need to grow marijuana on their own.

“They should really just leave the medical program alone if it’s medical, not tax the medicine, and legalize cannabis,” Slater said.

That restriction alone was discouraging for legislators who would otherwise support marijuana legalization, he added.

“The majority of people probably heard from their constituents, and most of the people who were in the [medical] program . . . hated the governor’s proposal because what it was going to do is it was going to restrict their ability to grow as patients,” he said. “If you’re currently getting what you need or growing what you need . . . why would you want that to change?”

But for Raimondo’s administration, those restrictions were common-sense policies that would ensure the public health and safety of Rhode Islanders, said Norman Birenbaum, who oversees the medical marijuana program and helped craft the administration’s proposal for recreational marijuana.

In addition to home grow restrictions, the administration’s proposal included a prohibition on products with more than 50 percent THC, the psychoactive compound in marijuana; changes to the way employers can test employees for marijuana; and frameworks for law enforcement agencies to test for marijuana impairment on the road.

“We looked at other states that had done this, and we wanted to make sure we weren’t walking down the same path and making the same mistakes that other states had made,” Birenbaum said.

By and large, marijuana advocates in Rhode Island saw the Raimondo administration’s restrictions, particularly on home growing and potency, as detrimental to legalization efforts, said Jared Moffat, the Rhode Island political director for the Marijuana Policy Project.

A mix of backlash from some — and blatant apathy from others — left Raimondo’s proposal on an island of its own over the last several months with little support from advocates or impassioned negotiating from pro-marijuana legislators.

House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello said there just wasn’t an appetite among lawmakers for legalizing recreational marijuana this year.

Moffat wasn’t entirely surprised. He said the lack of excitement among constituents likely “led to the perception among leadership in the House, in particular, that this was not super popular.”

“While we were sort of generally supportive, there were provisions in it that a lot of the activist community and usual supporters of legalization were really opposed to,” Moffat said. “Those things made it very difficult for me to do my job, which is rally the troops behind this, and I think that led to mixed reactions to the governor’s proposal.”

And though marijuana advocates blame the unpopularity of Raimondo’s proposal for the failure of this year’s legalization efforts, Birenbaum said he doesn’t see the governor changing her position on those issues in coming years, especially home growing.

“The administration’s view on this is we’re not trying to do this at any and all costs,” he said.

“Rhode Island has one of the highest per capita uses of marijuana in the country and has for about a decade already. . . . We need to have resources for public health and safety. We want to make sure that we’re offering safer versions of these products for people.”
 

Baron23

Well-Known Member
Sort of an interesting take from a politician who single-handedly killed adult use legalization last year by her insistence on tacking on detrimental (to patients, at least) changes to the R.I. medical program.

See the article posted above this one for details.

Rhode Island Governor Will Pursue Legal Marijuana In 2020

Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo (D) says she’ll make another attempt to legalize marijuana in the Ocean State next year.

In an appearance on WPRI-TV’s Newsmakers program, the governor said she recently discussed the cannabis issue during a lunch with Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont (D) and Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (D), and she left feeling encouraged to pursue the policy change.

Baker “basically said, ‘Look, you’re going to have to do it, so you probably should do it and do it right.’ And I think he’s probably right,” Raimondo said in the interview that aired last weekend. “Connecticut I think is pretty close to doing it, so it’s likely.”

“Last year we made a step forward with more medical [cannabis] and I think the next logical step is adult use,” she said.

Raimondo’s meeting with Baker and Lamont came just weeks after a separate vaping and cannabis-focused summit featuring the Connecticut governor and those from New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania, at which those top state executives agreed to a set of principles to shape regional marijuana legalization plans.

Raimondo included a legalization proposal in her 2019 budget submission to the legislature, but it was not adopted by lawmakers.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) and other governors from the Northeast have said that they want to approach legalization in a regionally coordinated manner in order to bolster public safety and prevent people from purchasing cannabis from neighboring states because of differences in tax rates or product availability, for example.

Senate leaders in New Jersey said on Monday that they were giving up on legalizing through the legislature for the time being, conceding that they don’t have the votes to pass a bill that appeases all stakeholders. Instead, they filed a bill that would place a referendum on legalization before voters in 2020.

Also in the new interview, Raimondo discussed a lawsuit she filed against legislative leaders over a statute they passed that effectively gives them veto power over the state’s cannabis regulations.
 

Baron23

Well-Known Member
A lottery....no proposal pre-screening...just a straight up lottery so that guy with two bankruptcies, wire fraud conviction, and SEC charges against him can enter?

Really?

This is like pin the tail on the donkey...they going to put up all of the applications and throw a dart at them to determine the winner?

WTF?


Lottery Will Determine Rhode Island’s 6 New Medical Cannabis Licenses


Rhode Island’s medical marijuana regulators have unveiled how they plan to issue licenses for six new dispensaries in the state and new rules that would not allow the new operations to grow their own cannabis at first.

The regulations released Thursday say the new licenses will be awarded through a random lottery.

The proposed regulations also would not allow the new dispensaries to grow until they are open and a market study is completed.

The state budget approved in June provides for the opening of six new dispensaries in different parts of the state. The state’s three existing dispensaries are in Providence, Warwick and Portsmouth.

The Department of Business Regulation will take public comment on the proposed rules until Dec. 21 and expects to finalize the rules early next year.
 

Baron23

Well-Known Member
New rule proposed for out-of-state medical marijuana users


Rhode Island agencies have proposed a new regulation on the sale of medical marijuana that would require out-of-state patients to present identification from their state as proof of residency.

Last year, state lawmakers began allowing dispensaries to sell to out-of-state residents, and 6,500 people who were Rhode Island residents changed their patient card addresses to California, according to the Providence Journal.

Many patients are looking to California because the patient-card rules there are more relaxed there than they are in Rhode Island, the paper reported.
“(The California card) was easier to afford. ... I make no money and have a lot of medical bills to pay,” user Alexa Coffey said.
Critics of the proposal for out-of-state patients to provide ID say Rhode Island's rules are already very complicated. They worry this could push patients to purchase off the black market or in Massachusetts.

“We need to stop making people jump through hoops," Greenleaf Compassion Center retail manager Jeff Pietrefesa said.
The Department of Business Regulation will accept public comment through Dec. 21.
 

Baron23

Well-Known Member
"doubled the price of a license to $500,000."

This almost went in the Atrocious sub-forum.....sigh

Where Does Rhode Island Stand on Marijuana?


In the early evening of June 22, the Rhode Island House of Representatives passed the state’s $9.9 billion budget for fiscal 2020. Among the high-profile provisions in the 488-page spending plan was Article 15, which significantly reshaped the state’s medical marijuana industry. After six years of three dispensaries, the General Assembly expanded the marketplace to nine, and doubled the price of a license to $500,000.

In his budgetary post-mortem, House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello expressed his satisfaction with the final product: “There is something in there for almost every segment of society. I would guess that everyone in this chamber [got] something they liked, but not everything they liked.”

For his part, Mattiello got something he liked very much: nine words added to Article 15’s rulemaking section, which mandated that any new cannabis or hemp rules promulgated by the Department of Business Regulations “shall be subject to approval by the General Assembly prior to enactment.”

In the hullaballoo over the licensing fee hike and the jockeying for the six new licenses, this power shift from the governor to the speaker of the House went largely unnoticed. Providence Senator Josh Miller, one of two point people in the General Assembly on cannabis legislation, says he found out about it either just before or just after the budget passed, but generally “it was not well-known. I was surprised, and I’m not easily surprised at this point.”

marijuana
illustration by brendan totten
Four months later, Governor Gina Raimondo sued Mattiello and Senate President Dominic Ruggiero in state Superior Court, alleging that the General Assembly’s attempt to take this regulatory authority away from the executive branch violated the state constitution’s separation of powers.

“It’s basic checks and balances,” Raimondo said at the time, “to make sure that we move away from the old way of doing business. Let’s have this be a place of transparency, equal footing and no more special deals for special people.”

Mattiello immediately back-pedaled. He promised a legislative fix and took umbrage at the “unnecessary expense by the governor of state taxpayers’ dollars and judicial resources,” according to a written statement by Mattiello’s spokesman Larry Berman. The legislative veto, Berman wrote, was originally enacted “to ensure that the regulatory process would be fair, open and transparent to everyone.”

Indeed, nothing says transparency like quietly slipping in major changes to important legislation at the eleventh hour. And nothing says equal footing like demanding half-a-million-dollar licenses — currently the highest in the nation — to join a tiny state-controlled monopoly.

Rachel Gillette, a Colorado lawyer who practices cannabis law, says Rhode Island’s expensive, hyper-restrictive “regulation by fear” is bad for the state economy and keeps the illegal market alive.

“Colorado is a pretty good model that a lot of states could benefit from,” she says. “We have reasonable licensing fees and thousands of licensed businesses. It means we have a lot of competition in the marketplace, and that is very American and it serves the consumer well. We also have a local option in which each jurisdiction can determine, based on local needs and desires, where, how many licenses, and what type of license is appropriate for that community.”

In the last six years, the number of card-holding medical marijuana patients in Rhode Island has more than tripled from 4,849 in 2013 to 17,891 in 2019. That does not take into account out-of-state cardholders, who, in June 2018, were permitted under a new interstate reciprocity law to buy cannabis at Rhode Island dispensaries. And, for the last three years, the dispensaries shattered sales records. In fiscal 2019, they sold $56 million worth of marijuana, a 46.6 percent increase over fiscal 2018, when they did $38.2 million in business — up more than a third from fiscal 2017’s $28.2 million.

With numbers like these, rather than moving away from the old way of doing business, many critics see the state galloping toward a regulatory structure that concentrates its nascent cannabis industry into a few well-connected hands, destroys small businesses, stifles economic development and consumer choice and encourages corruption.
In August, the FBI issued a warning in its weekly broadcast about the “emerging threat of public corruption in the expanding cannabis industry,” mentioning “some states” charging as much as $500,000 for a license. As if to prove the point, one month later, the agency charged Fall River Mayor Jasiel Correia with accepting $600,000 in bribes from cannabis operators hoping to locate their businesses in his city. Correia pleaded not guilty.

In Rhode Island, a who’s who of retired CEOs, lobbyists and real estate developers are lined up to grab what John Marion, executive director of Common Cause Rhode Island, calls “a Willy Wonka golden ticket” to become the next marijuana millionaire. Representative Charlene Lima of Cranston is already suspicious.
“People seem to be spending a lot of money buying buildings….” she says. “Why would you expend so much capital when you don’t even know if you are going to be one of the six? Any competent businessman will tell you: To spend that kind of money, you have to have some reassurances that you are going to be successful. It doesn’t pass the smell test.”

As the General Assembly returns to Smith Hill this month, Rhode Island’s marijuana policy appears to be less settled than June’s sleight-of-hand suggests. In November, the Department of Business Regulations issued its proposed regulations: The six new licenses would be awarded via lottery and, a win for the forty-five local cannabis cultivators, all six would be barred from growing their own crops for at least a year while regulators determine industry demand. Both Mattiello and Ruggerio promised thorough reviews of the proposed regulations — Mattiello told the Providence Journal the new rules “may not be consistent with the intent of the law passed by the General Assembly and signed by the governor” — and Newport Representative Lauren Carson says legislators have a lot more work to do.

“We should take a hard look — we are creating an industry and that is not something governments normally do and, as such, we need to be sure that we are tapping into the right ideas and right resources so we can be of assistance to the business community.”

And as the state tries to herd all cannabis consumers to the medical dispensaries, the effort to legalize marijuana for adult use remains another unresolved issue.
A year ago, Raimondo reluctantly included a cannabis legalization scheme so the state would not fall behind its neighbors, like Massachusetts, that have already done so. In October, she joined the governors of New York, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Connecticut to adopt a regional approach to cannabis and vaping legislation and policies and settle on some “core principles” regarding market regulation, public health and safety and enforcement and best practices. And in November, Raimondo said she was “exploring the possibility of once again including the legalization of adult-use marijuana.”

Complete legalization has languished since 2010, when the first recreational marijuana regulation bill was heard in committee.

But the Marijuana Policy Project, the advocacy organization behind the local lobbying effort, Regulate RI, has pulled back, because “Every year, we run up against the brick wall of the speaker and the senate president,” says former Regulate RI director Jared Moffat. “In Rhode Island, there’s not a willingness to putting any staff or resources into looking at this issue. Until there’s a change in leadership or a change in attitude, our chances are not very good.”

The biggest losers are the vanguards of legalization — the medical marijuana patients, who fought for the right to come out of the black market’s shadows and buy their medicine without criminal consequences.

“There’s something wrong with the attitude in this state,” says Ellen Smith, a patient and long-time activist. “They’ve forgotten why this whole thing started.”
They complain of constantly shifting regulations and taxes on home growers, who do so to keep down costs, maintain their privacy or ensure a steady supply of a strain that is most effective in treating their particular condition. Each year, they gather themselves to fight off bills that would eliminate home growing altogether.

“A lot of people out there who are hurting can’t afford to be going to the dispensaries. The prices are out of control,” says Phil Diamond, who treats his glaucoma with cannabis and grows for himself and four other medical marijuana patients. “Compassion centers. There’s nothing compassionate about them. It’s all about the money.”
 

Baron23

Well-Known Member

Rhode Island taking applications for six more medical cannabis dispensaries


Rhode Island medical cannabis regulators started accepting applications Friday for six potentially lucrative dispensary licenses, a move that will triple the number of retail outlets for the $60 million-plus market.


With only three dispensaries now licensed, the state ranks at the top of the U.S. in terms of patients per dispensary, according to the recently released Marijuana Business Factbook – despite Rhode Island having only roughly 18,000 patients.





That situation prompted regulators to announce in March they would issue additional licenses for six MMJ dispensaries.



But the new licensees, unlike the three existing vertically integrated dispensaries, will not be allowed to grow their own marijuana, according to the Providence Journal.


The six new dispensaries, called compassion centers, will have to procure their product from the 56 stand-alone cultivators in the state as of the second quarter.


That situation could change once the dispensaries are operational, however, because “the regulations include the possibility of seeking a variance to grow,” the Journal reported.


The licenses will be issued through a lottery process, with one permit issued for each of six geographic zones.


State regulators plan to take their time, however.


The application deadline isn’t until Dec. 15 because regulators want to give time for applicants to select locations and for local governments to hold public hearings, according to the Journal.


Winning licensees aren’t expected to start selling medical marijuana until late 2021.


The licensing plan spurred a power battle between Gov. Gina Raimondo and legislative leaders who objected to the state’s plan for retail-only dispensaries. Raimondo has won – for now.


And the stand-alone cultivators argued that additional vertically integrated dispensaries could drive them out of business.
 

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