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Rhode Island Marijuana Stores Enjoy Brisk First Week

The state's six licensed cannabis dispensaries collectively sold more than $1.63 million worth of weed from Dec. 1-7

NORML

Rhode Island’s Cannabis shops saw brisk business during their first week of operation under adult-use legalization allowing retail sales, according to a state agency. 

The state’s six licensed cannabis dispensaries collectively sold more than $1.63 million worth of marijuana from Dec. 1 to Dec. 7, according to the Department of Business Regulation. About half of those sales were for adult-use marijuana, for an estimated $786,000, reports the Washington Examiner. The remaining $845,400 consisted of sales to medical Cannabis patients, the agency said. 

The busy sales bode well for the state. Rhode Island will take in an estimated $133,600 in taxes, about $23,500 which will go to towns and cities where the weed stores are located.

$5.9 Million In Sales Projected For Current Fiscal Year

By comparison, medical cannabis sales are subject only to the state’s 7% sales tax. Medical sales will bring in around $59,000 for the state during that same period. 

The Rhode Island Office of Management and Budget is projecting $5.9 million in marijuana tax revenue in the current fiscal year, ending June 30, 2023. But state Cannabis regulators say the revenues will initially be spent almost entirely on administering the new program. Those expenses include hiring about two dozen new state employees to oversee ganja regulations.

The tax revenue is expected to increase in coming years, when up to 33 pot shops will be allowed to open statewide, according to the agency. 

Rhode Island is one of 19 states, along with the District of Columbia, to legalize adult-use weed sales. Another 37 states, including Rhode Island, have approved medical marijuana programs. 

Legalization in Rhode Island was passed by the Democratic-controlled Legislature. The law allows adults age 21 and up to possess up to 10 ounces of pot. The new law also authorized regulated cultivation and sales. Adult residents can also have up to six marijuana plants in their home. 

The law allows communities the option of charging pot shops excise taxes up to 20% on retail sales. It includes a 10% state marijuana excise tax, the state’s 7% sales tax and a 3% local tax.

Governor Initially Opposed Legalization; Came Around

Gov. Dan McKee had initially opposed weed legalization. But he later proposed a plan to phase in legal adult use and sales over a period of years.

Lawmakers approved the legislation earlier this year. Governor McKee signed it in May. 

“The reality is that prohibition does not stop cannabis use,” Mckee said when he signed the legalization bill into law. “Since Rhode Islanders can already access Cannabis just across the state border or on the illicit market, we experience all the challenges without any of the safeguards or resources that our neighboring states have.”

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