PROVIDENCE — State lawmakers have another medical marijuana bill to consider, one that would create three new retail-only stores and also add “acute,” or temporary, pain to the list of qualifying conditions for registered patients.
The bill is being sponsored by Sen. Frank A. Ciccone lll, D-Providence, and has among its co-sponsors Senate President Dominick J. Ruggerio.
Rhode Island currently has three licensed dispensaries that have exclusive rights to sell medical marijuana to the state’s roughly 18,200 patients.
In March state regulators said those three dispensaries were on pace to sell about $56 million worth of medicinal pot in fiscal 2019. That’s $17.8 million, or 46.6 percent, more than in fiscal year 2018. And that year itself was record-breaking, with $38.2 million worth of pot sold, a third more than in fiscal 2017.
Gov. Gina Raimondo’s proposal this year to legalize marijuana also calls for adding more medical marijuana dispensaries. Her plan calls for adding six new retail stores to meet the growing demand in a state that has among the highest per-capita marijuana-consumption rates in the nation.
Under her proposal none of the new stores would grow pot or manufacture any marijuana products, although three would be second locations for each of the state’s existing dispensaries, which all grow cannabis now. The other three additional stores would have different owners.
All nine dispensaries also could apply for licenses to sell recreational marijuana at a later date if the General Assembly approves recreational use this legislative session.
In past years the dispensaries — the Thomas C. Slater Compassion Center, in Providence; Greenleaf Compassion Center, in Portsmouth; and the Summit Medical Compassion Center, in Warwick — have lobbied successfully against any new dispensaries in Rhode Island and told lawmakers their businesses would suffer from the additional competition.
Ciccone’s bill would create