Tom Mooney | The Providence Journal
PROVIDENCE — As next Tuesday’s deadline approaches for applying for one of six new medical marijuana dispensary licenses, local officials from Richmond to Woonsocket have been mulling individual business proposals.
Community approval is necessary for applicants to qualify for a lottery that state regulators plan to hold to determine license winners for each of six geographical regions.
While some communities like Cranston (which has given preliminary approval to two proposals) have welcomed the idea of a dispensary, others have vetoed the idea outright. And some places like Newport have recently passed a moratorium on considering any marijuana businesses, saying zoning officials need time to draft better regulations.
Meanwhile one proposed zoning ordinance in Warwick, which would have blocked any new dispensaries in the city – effectively creating a monopoly for the existing Summit dispensary – raised eyebrows before it was withdrawn by its sponsor City Council member Tim Howe.
Howe said Monday he wasn’t trying to give Summit a monopoly but rather provoke a larger public discussion about whether the city wanted another dispensary.
Once chosen, the new license holders will have nine months to meet all requirements for operation. Unlike at the state’s three existing dispensaries (located in Providence, Warwick and Portsmouth), growing cannabis won’t be allowed at the new dispensaries.
The retail-only businesses will have to rely on dozens of state-licensed marijuana cultivators for their products.
Many of those cultivators have also applied for dispensary licenses. Regulations would allow them to operate both businesses under the new dispensary license, but at separate locations.
The state Department of Business Regulation opened up the application period on July 17 and extended it through next Tuesday to give communities time to hold public hearings on proposals.
Winning licensees will be chosen sometime next year for the following zones (though some communities in each zone