Proposed R.I. medical marijuana regulations call for lottery, new zones for dispensaries

SETH BOCK, CEO of Greenleaf Compassionate Care Center in Portsmouth, one of three regulated marijuana dispensaries in the state, walks among marijuana plants at his Newport facility in 2018. / PBN FILE PHOTO/KATE WHITNEY LUCEY
SETH BOCK, CEO of Greenleaf Compassionate Care Center in Portsmouth, one of three regulated marijuana dispensaries in the state, walks among marijuana plants at his Newport facility in 2018. / PBN FILE PHOTO/KATE WHITNEY LUCEY

PROVIDENCE – Proposed regulations for Rhode Island’s medical marijuana industry that were unveiled Thursday seek to limit growth to six new dispensaries in specific zones throughout the state.

The regulations, submitted Thursday by the R.I. Department of Business Regulation to the Secretary of State’s office, also outline a random selection process for potential vendors that includes a “blind review” of applications for licenses.

If the proposal is approved, it will increase the number of medical marijuana dispensaries in the state to nine. Centers are located now in Providence, Warwick and Portsmouth.

The proposal seeks to level the playing field for applicants looking to enter Rhode Island’s medical marijuana market, officials said.

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Under the new regulations, vendors interested in applying for a license to open one of the new dispensaries will pay a $10,000 application fee and will undergo a blind review and enter a randomized selection process.

Potential vendors must prove that they are qualified, along with showing that they have no conflicts of interest or competing interests in other Rhode Island medical marijuana businesses.

The regulations also prohibit relationships between dispensaries and health care providers who recommend medical marijuana for patients, and the proposal calls for child-resistant packaging complete with warning labels. The packaging would also have to be free from designs that may appeal to children.

Other requirements include the establishment of standardized serving sizes for edible and concentrated marijuana products and a limit to THC amounts in single packages.

A public hearing on the regulations is scheduled for 11 a.m. on Dec. 6 at Rhode Island College.

The proposal is also subject to a 30-day window for written public feedback.

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