Rhode Island’s Department of Business Regulation announced on July 17 that they will be accepting applications to license six additional medical marijuana compassion centers (dispensaries) for the more than $60 million market through December 15, 2020.
The lengthy timeframe to complete applications is intended to give applicants sufficient time to select a location for their proposed compassion center, and allow local governments time to hold public hearings on the proposals. Applicants will need to have a location that is approved for local zoning and meets requirements from schools and other restrictions.
The regulations outline a new compassion center in six regions of the state. Three of the six regions already host an existing compassion center, which means those three regions will eventually house two compassion centers. The three existing compassion centers in the state are currently serving nearly 20,000 patients between them.
Unlike all other licensed compassion centers in the state, the six new compassion centers will not be permitted to cultivate or process their own cannabis, though the regulations state that could change and they could be allowed to grow once the compassion centers have opened. For now, the new compassion centers will have to acquire products from one of the 56 cultivators in the state and offer dispensing services only.
The licenses will be issued through a lottery process, with one permit issued for each of the six geographic zones. Once submitted, applications will be reviewed to determine if they qualify for the lottery process. The date of the lottery has not yet been announced, but will take place sometime after December 15. The department has also suggested that the license lottery could be run by officials from the Rhode Island Lottery.
Applicants will be able to apply for a license in multiple zones if they decide to do so, but will only be allowed to accept one license. If an applicant is chosen for more than one zone, the applicant will need to determine which zone they want to operate in and will forfeit the other zones, which will be filled by other applicants through the lottery process.
Applicants must also provide a timeline for initiating operation, a three-year projected income estimate, identify how many workers they plan to hire and present a marketing and promotional plan that includes a strategy for pricing product.
The application fee is set at $10,000, and applicants will need to submit a number of other detailed financial information including operating capital, identity of investors and their current debt. If an applicant is awarded a license, they will be required to pay an annual licensing fee of $500,000.
“The most important part of all this, however, is the [improved] accessibility for the patients,” said Antonio Barone, treasurer of the Rhode Island Cannabis Association. “We still have some patients on fixed incomes who have to drive 30 or 45 minutes to get their medicine. That doesn’t happen with regular pharmacies that are on just about every corner.”
The department released regulations in March regarding the new dispensaries operations and anticipated releasing the application process soon thereafter. However, within the same week the new regulations were made public, the state was then forced to focus on the coronavirus pandemic.
The new compassion centers are not expected to be operational until late 2021.
Rhode Island is currently accepting applications for medical marijuana compassion center licenses with a deadline of December 15, 2020. To draft your business plans for your compassion center, our Rhode Island Compassion Center Template Package includes what you need to get started.
The package contains all of our available template plans necessary for establishing and operating a successful marijuana business, including our Compliance Plan Template and Safety & Security Plan Template, which are required plans on the current application.