Compassion center cuts in House budget benefit monopolies over patients
Buried under mounds of drama surrounding the House budget proposal, up for a vote on the floor Friday afternoon, those considering opening a medical marijuana dispensary in the state can find bad news and a rate hike to make your head spin. The House has stubbornly rebuked Gov. Raimondo’s previous proposal to increase the number of dispensaries in the state from 3 to 15, and it has raised the licensing fees those current dispensaries are required to pay from $5,000 to $250,000—an increase 50 times over.
The fee hike may appear to plug some holes in the state’s finances, if not as much as the governor was hoping for with her initial proposal to expand the number of dispensaries, euphemistically called “compassion centers” here in Rhode Island, which was projected to generate around $5 million in revenue. The Thomas C. Slater Compassion Center, in Providence, had previously offered the governor that much to prevent the state from allowing more dispensaries to crop up in the state, according to previous reporting by the Providence Journal. The governor didn’t take the Slater Center up on its offer, which demonstrated a staggering ability, not to mention confidence, on the part of Rhode Island’s compassion centers in retaining their economic dominance. The exorbitant spike in licensing fees in the budget proposal, however, tells an eerily similar story of compassion centers maintaining a stranglehold over medical marijuana revenue in the state.
It appears that this is exactly the state of affairs Rhode Island’s three compassion centers are hoping for. Rep. Moira Walsh (District 3, Providence) told RI Future that she “didn’t put up a fight” regarding the hike in licensing fees because she was assured that it was legislation specifically requested by