Rhode Island Delays Medical Cannabis Licensing Lottery

The licensing of new Rhode Island medical cannabis operators has been delayed until at least August after an applicant appealed their exclusion from the licensing lottery.

Full story after the jump.

Rhode Island announced it will delay its long-awaited lottery to choose six more medical cannabis licensees, WPRI reports. The holding pattern comes after one of the applicants appealed their exclusion from the list of qualified applicants and is expected to remain in place until after August.

Complicating the issue further, the state’s plan to have a third-party administrator conduct the lottery failed after finding zero interest. Instead, the lottery will now be conducted by the Rhode Island Department of Business Regulation.

The license finalists were chosen by state regulators after a four-month review of 45 applications filed by 25 applicants — 41 made it to the lottery stage.

“We’re hopeful that we’ll have a final determination sometime in the month of July, which will allow us to flip the switch and turn the lights on for a lottery hopefully that first week in August.” — Matthew Santacroce, head of the Office of Cannabis Regulation, via WPRI

According to public record request documents, Atlas Enterprises Inc. filed the appeal that caused the delay. According to the report, the “notice of denial” says Atlas was denied entry into the lottery for not submitting proper zoning approval documents from Newport, Rhode Island, where there is a moratorium on cannabis retail operations. Additionally, the documents revealed that Atlas did not disclose that their Board Chair, former state Rep. Robert Flaherty, was also involved with a second lottery applicant, Ascend Rhode Island Compassion Center.

“Generally speaking, what we were looking for was completeness and demonstrated compliance with local zoning and real estate requirements,” Santacroce told WPRI.

The setback will delay the final licensing of new medical cannabis operators in the state until the final quarter of this year, according to the report. However, Santacroce is optimistic the new centers will open in late 2021 or early 2022, despite the delay.

“Depending on the turnkey readiness of whoever gets picked from the lottery,” he said, “I’m very confident and very hopeful that we’ll have at the very least a couple of these compassion centers opening their doors by the end of the calendar year to our patient population.”

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