The more states legalize recreational cannabis, the less patients are likely to use their medical marijuana programs. At least that’s the worry of some dispensaries in Rhode Island, with recreational marijuana in neighboring state Massachusetts around the corner.
One Rhode Island dispensary owner, Seth Bock of Greenleaf Compassionate Care Center, spoke at a legislative oversight Panel last week, arguing that when the doors open on legal pot shops in Massachusetts next year, many patients may find them easier to use than Rhode Island’s MMJ program.
Many patients, he said, maybe “saying you know what, I don’t want my name on a list,” and go across state lines to get their bud, according to reporting from The Providence Journal.
Rhode Island currently has nearly 19,000 registered MMJ patients, but they are required to renew their recommendation cards every year with a visit to a doctor and a $50 fee.
One solution Bock put forward is for the state to extend recommendation expirations for three years, which might prevent the state’s program from “bleeding patients.”
Massachusetts might also offer Rhode Island patients competitive convenience, as the 19,000 of them are serviced by only three licensed dispensaries. Those dispensaries saw their profits rise from $3.1 million to $28.2 million in sales in the fiscal year of 2017.
Not everyone agrees with Bock’s assessment. At a different legislative panel, Rhode Island’s top medical marijuana regulator said he believes Massachusetts may not be as big as a threat as people like Bock believe, given that some types of cannabis products will be sold in the state’s dispensaries which won’t be available in Massachusetts pot shops.
Additionally, some Rhode Island MMJ patients may want not to take a risk on trafficking cannabis back into their home state from across state lines, which would technically be a federal crime.
Photo via Flickr user Ron Gilbert