Medical cannabis dispensary offers to help Rhode Island plug budget hole

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(This story has been updated from an earlier version. It reflects a clarification by the Providence Journal, which originally reported that the Thomas C. Slater Compassion Center was offering Rhode Island $5 million if regulators would limit competition in the state’s medical marijuana program. According to Compassion Center spokesman Chris Reilly, he told told the state “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.” He said he wasn’t making an offer of any specific help.)

Rhode Island’s largest medical marijuana dispensary has offered to help the state find a way to come up with $5 million.

According to the Providence Journal, a representative of the Thomas C. Slater Compassion Center told House lawmakers the dispensary would help the state find a “solution” to the state’s budget problems.

Rhode Island has been considering increasing the number of dispensaries from three to 15.

Regulators are promoting the uptick in dispensaries as way to:

  • Bring in $5 million in revenue for the state annually.
  • Decrease prices.
  • Ramp up competition.
  • Offer more variety to patients.
  • Improve access to a growing patient pool.

Existing dispensary owners argue that the move would threaten the viability of their companies.

They also worry about the impact of neighboring Massachusetts’ recreational market when it comes online.

Regulators are downplaying that concern, however, saying the cannabis in Massachusetts will be more expensive, for example.