Who will win the lottery to run Rhode Island's six new medical marijuana dispensaries? – The Providence Journal

Tom Mooney   | The Providence Journal

PROVIDENCE — David Spradin is the CEO of a California-based marijuana company called Perfect Union.

It has 14 marijuana stores between Los Angeles and Sacramento, six stores in New Mexico and has had stores in Oregon and Washington, says Rick McAuliffe, a Rhode Island lobbyist who now also serves as a director for Spradin’s new local affiliate: Perfect Union-RI.

The company and 27 other businesses all filed applications last month for a chance to run one of six new medical marijuana dispensaries planned for Rhode Island. 

While Spradin’s local venture incorporated just in November, the Californian has been around, buying up one marijuana cultivation operation, in Warwick, and purchasing a Providence site for a possible second — indicators of the interest some outside investors have with Rhode Island’s booming, multimillion-dollar marijuana industry.

Spradin’s Western stores sell in both the recreational and medical markets “and he thinks the opportunity in Rhode Island and the Northeast is very good,” says McAuliffe, particularly if Rhode Island joins several Northeast states and legalizes recreational use of the drug.

“He wants to be a presence here,” says McAuliffe. “I think we all see that at some point this will go recreational.”

The new year promises to bring renewed focus on marijuana in Rhode Island. 

The state is moving forward with the first expansion of its medical marijuana dispensaries since the existing three — located in Providence, Warwick and Portsmouth — opened in 2013 and 2014.

The new dispensaries will operate in six geographical zones around the state, an effort to improve access for patients and promote price competition.

The Raimondo administration has proposed choosing the winners of the new dispensary licenses by a lottery — held in public and perhaps even televised — to keep political favoritism and influence out of

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