Sunday, March 13, 2011

The long-awaited debut of medical marijuana dispensaries in Rhode Island.

Posted by CN Staff on March 13, 2011 at 08:16:53 PT
By W. Zachary Malinowski, Journal Staff Writer
Source: Providence Journal

Providence, RI -- The long-awaited debut of medical marijuana dispensaries in Rhode Island this spring promises to help deal with the state’s projected $295-million budget deficit.

Last week, Governor Chafee proposed $157 million in new taxes on a wide array of items, including a 6-percent sales tax on medical marijuana sold at dispensaries. But just how much revenue could sales in the state’s growing medical-marijuana program deliver to the state’s coffers?

State Tax Administrator David Sullivan said that his office projects $802,000 in marijuana sales taxes for fiscal year 2012, which begins July 1. He said that the state expects the figure to climb to $1.3 million in the following fiscal year, which ends June 30, 2013.

Meanwhile, the state would also place a 4-percent surcharge on gross monthly dispensary sales, under the budget proposal. Assuming that the Health Department issues permits for three dispensaries, the state predicts that the surcharge would produce $1.4 million during the dispensaries’ first two years of business.

All told, that’s $3.5 million in new tax revenue over two years. The Health Department is expected to announce on Tuesday the names of operators for up to three dispensaries. They will be chosen from a list of 18 applications.

JoAnne Leppanen, executive director of the Rhode Island Patient Advocacy Coalition, forecast that once the dispensaries open, 75 to 100 patients a week will apply to the Health Department for licenses to use medical marijuana, compared to about 30 now. There are now 3,271 Rhode Islanders licensed to use and grow medical marijuana, and 2,077 licensed to grow it for approved users.

Dispensary owners in Colorado expect that the opening of three dispensaries in Rhode Island would lead to a dramatic surge in medical marijuana patients. They say that the centers are safe, and they erase many of the stigmas associated with using marijuana.

Complete Article:

Source: Providence Journal, The (RI)
Author: W. Zachary Malinowski, Journal Staff Writer
Published: Sunday, March 13, 2011
Copyright: 2011 The Providence Journal Company

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