April 22, 2019

Proposed Legislation in Rhode Island For Increase in Number of Medical Dispensaries Along With Adult-Use Legalization


A report from the Providence Journal tells of increasing retail revenues in Rhode Island’s medical cannabis program, in addition to discussing the governor’s adult-use legalization plan, which includes licensing more medical dispensaries.

According to the Journal, fiscal year 2018 saw about $38.2 million in retail revenues generated by the state’s three dispensaries, up by a third compared to the prior fiscal year (FY). So far in FY 2019, which runs from July 2018 through the end of June 2019, Rhode Island’s three licensed dispensaries are projected to reach around $56 million in combined revenues, a nearly 50% increase from FY 2018.

As noted, proposed legislation to legalize cannabis for adult-use in the state includes plans to expand the medical program. However, increasing the number of medical cannabis dispensary licenses has been proposed more than once in recent years, but has never been acted upon by the state legislature.

Increasing demand in Rhode Island’s medical cannabis program has been reflected in our price assessments. The state’s Spot Index is one of a number that have this year ascended to settle above 2018’s peak on multiple occasions. Through the first quarter of 2019, Rhode Island’s overall volume-weighted price rose by 2.8%.

Until the pending legalization legislation that would expand the state’s medical cannabis system is approved and implemented, the number of licensed dispensaries in Rhode Island will remain set at three for the foreseeable future. Those businesses grow and produce much of their own inventory, but Rhode Island also began licensing standalone cultivators in 2017. A February report from WPRI states that 74 cultivators have received approval from the state, but only about 25 are actually up and running. As more growers become operational, supply may begin to catch up to demand.