7 January 2017

The Providence Journal reports

Three Warwick-based companies have obtained the state’s first ever medical marijuana cultivation licenses.

Evergreen Gardens was issued a license that, for now, forbids the company from selling to Summit Medical Compassion Center, said Matt Sheaff, a spokesman for the state Department of Business Regulation. The state is waiting to receive documentation from the Massachusetts Department of Health that Evergreen’s principal, Armand Lusi, has officially resigned from his role with a pending Massachusetts dispensary where he was working with Summit’s general manager, Napolean Brito.

Rhode Island officials said the situation was problematic because of the overlapping relationships, and Lusi agreed to cut ties with the Massachusetts company — the Wellness Connection of MA.

Another four companies have had their applications approved by the state and need to undergo inspections before they can be licensed. They are: IDBP, LLC of Warwick; Dirtworx, LLC, of Warwick; GrowingGreen RI of West Warwick; and Best Buds Nursery, LLC of West Warwick.

Regulations that went into effect at the beginning of the month forbid marijuana caregivers from selling to the dispensaries — a change state officials hope will curb the flow of marijuana to the black market.

There are more than 2,800 medical marijuana caregivers and 16,360 patients in the state who can legally grow their own marijuana — any number of which could have been selling excess marijuana to the dispensaries until this month. The new system, comes with annual licensing fees that will cost growers thousands of dollars and allow the state to know where the businesses are located and regulate how the plants are grown.

The three dispensaries also grow their own marijuana, but state officials estimate between 40 and 60 percent of the marijuana sold at the dispensaries comes from outside growers.

Norman Birenbaum, the state’s top marijuana regulator, said in addition to the seven companies that have received some level of state approval, another six applications are pending.