Rhode Island Marijuana Dispensary Bill Clears Last Hurdle, Cannabis Centers Could Open By Fall

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It looks like medical cannabis dispensaries will finally become a reality in Rhode Island.

A revised measure that paves the way for the creation of three marijuana centers sailed through the state House of Representatives yesterday, with 64 lawmakers voting for the bill and just 7 coming out against it. The legislation now needs final approval from Rhode Island’s governor, who already has voiced his support for the bill.

The move will create another new – albeit small – market for dispensaries and related companies. More than 4,400 residents already possess medical marijuana cards in Rhode Island, and a good chunk of them will likely start buying cannabis from dispensaries. It also bolsters the MMJ industry on the East Coast, where one state (Connecticut) recently approved a new medical cannabis bill and another (Massachusetts) will weigh in on the issue during the November elections.

Barring any unforeseen challenges – which, unfortunately, do seem to crop up frequently when it comes to medical marijuana – dispensaries could be up and running by September.

The dispensary program faced a huge setback last year, when Gov. Lincoln Chafee prevented centers from opening as the federal government began cracking down on dispensaries in other states. Chafee said he would work with lawmakers to hammer out a revised bill that would lessen the chances the federal government would intervene.

The new law puts strict limits on the amount of cannabis a dispensary can have on hand, setting a cap 1,500 ounces per center at any time. It also lets police officers inspect centers and gives state law enforcement representatives a seat on the board of each dispensary.