Rep. Amore questions compassion center finances in wake of medical marijuana expansion budget article testimony
STATE HOUSE – Rep. Gregg Amore (D-Dist. 65, East Providence) has written to the top regulator of the state’s medical marijuana program seeking information on the finances of the three compassion centers in Rhode Island after testimony was delivered to the House Committee on Finance relating to the governor’s budget proposal (Article 17) to expand the number of compassion centers in Rhode Island from three to fifteen facilities.
Specifically, Representative Amore wants to understand how a non-profit entity would be able to give the state an additional $5 million, the amount of money expected to be generated if the expansion is implemented, so that the number of compassion centers remain at the current number of three.
The proposal was suggested by a representative of the Thomas C. Slater Compassion Center on March 20 at a House Finance Committee meeting.
“Based upon testimony on the status of various non-profits who come before the House Finance Committee every year, I find it interesting that these facilities would have the capacity to produce that level of additional revenue,” wrote Representative Amore.
In his letter to Norman Birenbaum of the Department of Business Regulation, Representative Amore is seeking:
“At our hearing, we heard from many patient advocates who expressed concerns that too many Rhode Islanders were finding access to medical marijuana to be cost prohibitive. I understand there is a roughly 400% retail markup that the compassion centers charge to medical patients. This is compared to the wholesale cost the centers pay for product from state approved cultivators,” wrote Representative Amore.
Each of the three compassion center’s annual revenue (net and gross)
Annual taxes paid to the state of Rhode Island
Total amount of license fees paid annually
Hourly wages (average) paid to the employees of each compassion center
Employee benefits included in the employee compensation package, i.e. health insurance, 401K
“The question now becomes, are these nonprofit facilities actually making a profit by charging patients too much for their medicine? Or would this expansion of compassion centers do damage to the patients in the medical marijuana program as stated by the existing compassion centers to the committee? Our main concern should be offering the best possible program to Rhode Island’s medical marijuana patients, whether that is with three compassion centers or fifteen. These questions need to be answered before the House Finance Committee can properly deliberate the merits of the budget article,” concluded Representative Amore.
For more information, contact:
Andrew Caruolo, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903