Medical marijuana: Dispensary offers RI $5M to limit competition
Medical marijuana dispensaries say adding outlets would threaten the sustainability of their businesses — which they have spent million of dollars upgrading to meet the state’s changing needs and requirements.
Tom Mooney Journal Staff Writer Mooneyprojo
PROVIDENCE — “Gifting” is a common practice in the medical marijuana program, allowing growers to give away their medicine to needy recipients.
But Chris Reilly, a spokesman for the state’s largest medical marijuana dispensary, had something else in mind last week when he told some House lawmakers that the Thomas C. Slater Compassion Center was considering giving Rhode Island something:
Maybe $5 million.
The offer came with a condition. State regulators would have to change their plan to hike the number of state-licensed pot dispensaries from the existing three to 15.
“We’re very sensitive to the state and its challenges,” Reilly told members of the House Finance Committee. “And if there is a way to find the $5 million that you need to plug the budget hole that you need for the coming fiscal year, we’d like to be part of the solution.”
Reilly’s offer seemed to exemplify just how serious a threat the state’s three dispensaries see Gov. Gina Raimondo’s plan to expand and better regulate the booming medical marijuana program.
Regulators say the plan would increase competition among dispensaries, lower prices, offer a wider array of tested marijuana strains and improve access for patients, whose numbers keep growing.
The plan would also generate at least $5 million annually in state revenue.
But dispensary representatives say the expansion would be the first of a one-two punch combination threatening the sustainability of their businesses — which they have spent million of dollars in recent years upgrading to meet the state’s changing needs and requirements.
The second punch is the start of recreational pot sales in Massachusetts