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Rhode Island Cans Medical Marijuana Card Fees

As of last Thursday, medical marijuana patients in Rhode Island reportedly no longer need to pay for a medical cannabis card. But they will still pay tax on purchases.

Patients no longer having to part with $50 for a card or stump up renewal fees coincides with the commencement of recreational sales in the state. What hasn’t disappeared is a 7% sales tax on medical cannabis. As for recreational marijuana, there’s a 20% tax being collected on that.

Currently, there are only five dispensaries permitted to sell recreational cannabis; all existing medical dispensaries granted a dual license. Ultimately, it’s intended there will be 33 adult-use retailers in Rhode Island.

Rhode Island has a comparatively small population (around 1.1 million), but a high proportion of registered medical cannabis patients. For the fiscal year July 1, 2021 to June 30, 2022 Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) approved and issued 2,825 new patient registrations, 96 caregiver registrations and 144 authorized purchaser registrations.

The most common qualifying condition in latest period for the state’s program was severe debilitating chronic pain – 57.02% of patients; followed by severe nausea (7.33%).

For the fiscal year, there was a total of 16,552 active patient registrations, 472 active caregiver registrations and 539 active authorized purchaser registrations. This was quite a drop on the 19,369 active patient registrations at the end of the previous fiscal year. And it’s likely to drop further given legal adult-use marijuana sales kicking off on December 1.

Retail sales of medical cannabis have certainly plummeted along with patient numbers in recent times. In October last year, sales reached $6.6 million compared to $4.6 million in October 2022.

Adult use sales were launched in Rhode Island just six months after the Cannabis Act was signed into law, and no doubt the close to 70 licensed cultivators, processors and manufacturers have welcomed it. But the impact on registered patients remains to be seen. If similar situations in other states are anything to go by, they may be in for a bumpy road ahead in terms of availability of specific products they are accustomed to acquiring.

Gillian Jalimnson
Gillian Jalimnson is one of Hemp Gazette's staff writers and has been with us since we kicked off in 2015. Gillian sees massive potential for cannabis in areas of health, energy, building and personal care products and is intrigued by the potential for cannabidiol (CBD) as an alternative to conventional treatments. You can contact Gillian here.

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