(Vince Chandler, The Denver Post file photo)

RI gov calls for more medical marijuana dispensaries, advocates decry recreational study

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — The Rhode Island governor has called for an increase in medical marijuana dispensaries and an increase in licensing fees to generate another $1.5 million in revenue.

The Providence Journal reports Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo submitted a budget amendment June 9 calling for “no less than six licensed compassion centers.”

The existing three centers would be allowed to operate a second, retail-only location.

In a letter, state Budget Officer Thomas Mullaney says the additional dispensaries would be in “underserved areas” of the state.

The amendment calls for an increase in compassion center application fees from $250 to $5,000 and annual licensing fees from $5,000 to $25,000.

Asked whether the House would review Raimondo’s proposal during the budget unveiling Thursday, House spokesman Larry Berman says “Everything is on the table.”

Meanwhile, proponents of legalizing recreational marijuana in Rhode Island say they plan to boycott a legislative commission being formed to study legalization, describing it as a “flawed delay tactic.”

The state House of Representatives voted 67-2 on Wednesday in favor of a proposal to create a 22-person commission to examine how pot legalization has worked in other states. The proposal now moves to the state Senate. The commission, if formed, would report its findings back next year.

The Regulate Rhode Island Coalition, which includes the state’s NAACP chapter, says its members won’t participate. The group says the commission is an attempt to help lawmakers avoid voting on a measure that would legalize adult marijuana possession next year.

Top legislative leaders who favor the study group want to take a slower approach.