Seeking fairness for medical cannabis firms, RI gov sues over control of state’s industry

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Rhode Island’s governor is asking a judge to declare the Legislature’s control over new medical marijuana and hemp regulations unconstitutional.

Gov. Gina Raimondo said Tuesday she’s suing in Superior Court because the Democratic-controlled Legislature, in provisions of the state budget, violated the constitutional guarantee of separation of powers by giving itself the right to veto, and thereby control, executive regulations.

Governmental leaders “have a responsibility to regulate (the medical marijuana market) it in a way that’s open, transparent and fair for businesses and consumers,” the Democratic governor said in a statement.

“We can’t go back to the old way of doing things when business decisions were made through inside deals and behind-the-scenes influence.”

Spokesmen for the House and Senate said the Democratic governor’s lawsuit is an unnecessary use of taxpayer dollars and judicial resources.

They said legislative leaders already indicated the provision in the law will be removed.

The budget adds six medical marijuana dispensaries, for a total of nine.

The Department of Business Regulation is considering proposing a lottery system to allow “all serious, qualified businesses” to take part in Rhode Island’s medical marijuana market.

In 2018, cultivators told legislators they would like to see more stores permitted to sell MMJ to registered patients, but not if the retailers were also allowed to grow.

The 2019 Marijuana Business Factbook projects MMJ sales of $50 million-$60 million this year in Rhode Island.

– Associated Press and Marijuana Business Daily