PROVIDENCE – Rhode Island has licensed five of its six operating medical marijuana dispensaries to begin selling the drug for recreational use as well starting Dec. 1, when the state’s legalization goes into effect.
The newest of those five businesses opened for medical sales last week. Mother Earth Wellness, in Pawtucket, opened at 125 Esten Ave., and co-owner Joseph Pakuris said then “people are showing up.”
Recreational sales are expected to eclipse medical sales quickly, he said, especially with the number of registered medical marijuana patients in Rhode Island continuing to decline.
“I think 70% of the business will be recreational,” said Pakuris.
The number of medical marijuana patients has been declining each month since July 2021, when 19,439 were registered through the state, according to data kept by the Department of Business Regulation.
As of October, Rhode Island had 15,714 registered patients, a drop of 21% since July 2021. Regulators have attributed much of the decrease to patients buying their medicine without the hassle of state regulations at the growing number of Massachusetts retail pot shops along the Rhode Island border. (Massachusetts opened its first retail stores in 2018.)
With Rhode Island this year joining 20 other states in legalizing adult recreational marijuana sales, the state