PROVIDENCE, R.I. — The head of one of Rhode Island’s medical marijuana dispensaries said he believes he could go out of business in two years if the state doesn’t take steps to counter the expected opening of recreational marijuana shops in Massachusetts next summer.
Seth Bock, the CEO of Greenleaf Compassionate Care Center in Portsmouth, told a legislative oversight panel Tuesday that the opening of recreational stores in the Bay State is his biggest business concern.
A significant number of patients will be faced next year with the choice of renewing the patient cards or “saying you know what, I don’t want my name on a list,” Bock said, suggesting that medical patients will buy from recreational shops in Massachusetts.
The nearly 19,000 Rhode Islanders in the program must renew their patient cards annually at a cost of $50. They also must pay to visit a physician.
Bock said the General Assembly should consider allowing all Rhode Islanders registered for the medical program to maintain patient status for three years to prevent the state from “bleeding patients.”
In fiscal 2017, the state saw roughly $3.1 million from the $28.2 million in sales at the state’s three medical marijuana dispensaries. The state collects 7 percent sales tax plus an additional 4 percent surcharge on sales.
Last week, Norman Birenbaum, the state’s top medical marijuana regulator, had another opinion. He told a different legislative panel that he doesn’t believe Massachusetts pot shops will kill Rhode Island’s medical program, in part because medical dispensaries offer some forms of the drug that aren’t used recreationally.
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