WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) — The Warwick City Council is considering changing zoning rules in a way that could keep new marijuana dispensaries out of the city, as the state gears up for a lottery to determine how to dole out six coveted new licenses.
A zoning change proposed by Councilman Timothy Howe would effectively prevent a second dispensary — known as a compassion center — from opening in Warwick.
But the city’s Planning Department is already recommending against the measure, saying it would “preclude competition.”
“We already have one in Warwick that is going just fine,” Howe told 12 News when reached by phone Wednesday. He said he submitted the proposed zoning change at the request of a constituent, whom he did not name. (He said no one from Summit Medical Compassion Center, the existing dispensary, asked him to submit the proposal.)
Howe said his primary goal was to allow the public to weigh in on whether Warwick allows a new dispensary in the city, rather than leaving it up to state regulators. The City Council process of reviewing the ordinance will include a public hearing, he said.
The city planning board voted Wednesday night to recommend the City Council amend the proposal to allow new compassion centers to open in two industrial zones in the city, if licensed by the state.
“It basically totally bans everything but what is in existence,” City Solicitor Peter Clarkin explained to the board, referring to Howe’s proposal. “I’m not convinced that would withstand a legal challenge.”
Luke Murray of the Planning Department also said the proposal is “inconsistent” with Warwick’s comprehensive zoning plan. He noted that there had been “little to no adverse impact” of the existing cannabis industry in the city.
Warwick already has one of the state’s three compassion centers, Summit