New marijuana rules released as RI gears up for more dispensaries – WPRI.com


PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The final version of new medical marijuana regulations by Gov. Gina Raimondo’s administration keeps in place a lottery system and geographic zones for issuing new marijuana dispensary licenses, but reverses course on an effort to limit how many patients a home-growing caregiver can help.

The 128 pages of regulations — which detail how the state’s Department of Business Regulation will license new compassion centers — were released Thursday after a power struggle over them between Raimondo and General Assembly leadership was resolved last month.

The new rules go into effect on March 25, and DBR expects to announce the application period for six new dispensaries — known as compassion centers — in the coming weeks.

The regulations make a few key changes from the draft version, released in November. That caused medical marijuana patients, growers and retailers to express concern at a public hearing in December.

One change is that patients with out-of-state marijuana cards who live in Rhode Island will continue to be able to buy medical cannabis here. The original proposal would have required the patient’s driver’s license to be from the same state as their medical marijuana card, blocking patients from electing to get a less expensive card from states like California.

Patients said Rhode Island’s requirement for a doctor’s visit to get a card can be onerous, since insurance companies typically don’t cover the visit because of the federal prohibition on marijuana.

The new rules also allow registered caregivers — who grow marijuana at home but are not patients — to continue to grow for up to five patients, reversing the original proposal to limit each caregiver to just one patient. The goal of the proposal was to decrease the amount of homegrowing and funnel patients to the compassion centers instead, but

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