Sarah Climaco

New Rhode Island Budget Raises MMJ Companies’ Annual Renewal Fees from $5k to $250k

Rhode Island medical cannabis retailers will likely see the cost of their annual renewal fees increase fifty-fold — from $5,000 to $250,000 — after lawmakers approved a new state budget, according to a Providence Journal report. Gov. Gina Raimondo, a Democrat, is expected to sign the budget this week.

Last year, Gov. Raimondo called for major expansions to the state’s medical cannabis industry. She proposed adding 12 new dispensaries to the program and raising retailer license renewals from $5,000 to $25,000. These expansions were opposed by the states’ existing three dispensaries, who argued that adding dispensaries to the state’s model would cut into the patient bases of existing retailers.

The House Finance Committee also disagreed and ultimately shot down the governor’s plan, though lawmakers adopted and dramatically expanded the increase in license renewal fees.

“The proposal would have created far too many centers. I don’t know what the right number is, but the whole system needs a comprehensive review before taking any further action. I don’t want to make a decision that may have to be pulled back.” — Rhode Island House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello, via Providence Journal

While Rhode Island‘s dispensaries now won’t have to deal with new competition, the spike in license renewal fees is sure to be felt by existing operators.

Meanwhile, Magdalena Andreozzi of the Rhode Island Cannabis Association supported the idea of adding dispensaries and argued that the expansions would have generated more than 400 jobs and roughly $1.5 million in taxes.

“(The cultivators) have purchased the licenses, paid the necessary fees, gotten zoning variances, paid for their leases and the expense of building out [a grow location], and now there is no market for them to sell their product. It’s going to be a real rude awakening for some of these new licensees.” — Magdalena Andreozzi, member of the Rhode Island Cannabis Association

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