Rhode Island medical marijuana sales were roughly $27 million in 2017. Cultivators are perfecting their brands. Manufacturers are upgrading extraction facilities. More dispensaries may be open soon.
Many patients still rely on the state’s 2,000 or so caregivers, but large scale cultivators say they’re more than capable of supplying patient demand, according to WPRI 12 News. Rhode Island doesn’t cap the number of licensed cultivators. The Department of Business Regulation (DBR) has issued 24 licenses since December 2016 but 42 more have been approved.
Norman Birenbaum, Principal Policy and Economic Analyst for the DBR worked to create a new process for licensing. The state wants to know where cultivator operations are and how the product is being grown.
Birenbaum said, “We didn’t know who was growing, where they were growing, under the conditions they were growing. And it was widely known some were supplying the illegal market.”
The operations are required to have security systems in place. The DBR can remotely access the security cameras via remote login.
Cultivators in the stat are also working to grow medicine with higher concentrations of THC. Some plants are specifically grown for their high concentrations of CBD as well.
As the state moves closer to reaching 20,000 medical marijuana patients, production is expected to increase. Governor Raimondo wants to increase the number of dispensaries from 3 to 15 in the state. While the state is looking into the potential of legalizing recreational marijuana, their focus remains on medical marijuana.
Birenbaum said, “Right now, we’re just trying to make sure that regulated medicine is accessible as possible. So, that people don’t think they need to grow in their homes in potentially dangerous conditions.”
Medical marijuana business license holders do have their eyes on the future.
Birenbaum said, “Some people put [recreational marijuana references] in applications because they’re trying to get ahead of where the state is. Nothing that we’ve done right now is looking toward recreational marijuana.”
The expansions in the medical marijuana program have been welcomed ones. Patients are hoping for more access. Cultivators are hoping to make their brands successful. The state hopes the program continues to flourish.