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Rhode Island Officials Update Marijuana Sales Numbers Going Back To 2022 To Correct For ‘Human Error’



Rhode Island officials have quietly published updated marijuana sales numbers stretching back to the launch of the state’s adult-use market in December 2022, fixing discrepancies in the figures that sometimes amounted to tens of thousands of dollars.

The adjustment came in response to a request for clarification from Marijuana Moment after the state Department of Business Regulation published its monthly sales records from September. Initially, retail totals reported by the state didn’t match up with the sum of reported medical and recreational sales.

In some cases the differences were small—September’s discrepancy was just $0.04, but errors in other months ranged from nearly $70,000 above the expected total to more than $124,000 below.

12/22 $3,408,464.84 $3,987,523.93 $7,395,988.77 $7,395,989.02 $0.25
1/23 $3,505,853.08 $3,881,843.92 $7,387,697.00 $7,384,697.00 -$3,000.00
2/23 $4,257,394.41 $3,185,842.26 $7,443,236.67 $7,443,218.55 -$18.12
3/23 $5,381,556.56 $3,359,873.02 $8,741,429.58 $8,741,428.95 -$0.63
4/23 $5,392,693.68 $2,959,442.26 $8,352,135.94 $8,421,924.28 $69,788.34
5/23 $6,037,183.97 $2,979,828.99 $9,017,012.96 $8,892,593.99 -$124,418.97
6/23 $6,401,678.67 $2,768,940.24 $9,170,618.91 $9,170,619.08 $0.17
7/23 $6,753,464.17 $2,713,023.61 $9,466,487.78 $9,465,617.47 -$870.31
8/23 $7,033,576.59 $2,637,216.55 $9,670,793.14 $9,672,793.26 $2,000.12
9/23 $7,116,727.00 $2,516,624.54 $9,633,351.54 $9,633,351.50 -$0.04

On Tuesday, officials updated adult-use cannabis, medical marijuana and total retail sales numbers for the past 10 months to correct for what an auditor described as data-entry mistakes.

“The large monetary discrepancies occurred from human error,” Cindy Miller, an investigative auditor for the Department of Business Regulation, told Marijuana Moment in an email. “I transposed some numbers incorrectly.”

Miller said that the error was likely introduced when compiling monthly reports from various sources provided by Metrc, the state’s third-party track-and-trace software.

“We pull several reports from Metrc and try to consolidate/summarize those reports,” she explained. “I am no longer the only person working with industry reporting, and we now have a process in place to catch these errors sooner.”

Even after the updates, state numbers show that Rhode Island’s licensed marijuana retailers sold more adult-use cannabis than ever in September—$7,116,727 in total receipts. Total retail sales for the month ($9.63 million), which includes adult-use ($7.03 million) and medical marijuana ($2.52 million), fell just short of a $9.67 million monthly record set in August.

Meanwhile in Rhode Island, the governor and leaders of the House and Senate announced their appointments to the state’s Cannabis Advisory Board in August. The 19-member panel works with the Cannabis Control Commission to issue recommendations.

Regulators on a listening tour in the state that month also heard from advocates who called for equity and other adjustments to industry rules.

Additionally, some workers in the marijuana industry have been pushing to unionize.

Across the country, many relatively new state markets have seen record-breaking sales numbers this year.

In Illinois, for example, officials recently touted the industry’s “unprecedented growth” in fiscal year 2023, with regulated stores selling more than $1.5 billion in marijuana products. In September, stores in the state sold more individual cannabis products than during any prior month.

Connecticut, meanwhile, tallied more than $25 million in total sales in September, besting a record set the previous month.

Licensed retailers in Maryland, sold a record amount of adult-use cannabis products in September although medical marijuana sales fell.

In New Mexico, monthly sales in September narrowly missed a monthly sales record set in August as the state crossed the half-billion-dollar mark in total adult-use sales.

August was also a record-setting month in Rhode Island, which sold its highest amount of cannabis for the fourth consecutive month, notching $9.7 in monthly receipts.

Purchases of adult-use cannabis in August also broke a record ($23.7 million) in Montana, state officials reported, although medical marijuana sales were at their lowest ($5.0 million) since recreational markets opened early last year.

In Maine, too, marijuana sales reached a record high in August, with nearly $22 million worth of purchases, according to recent data from the state Office of Cannabis Policy (OCP).

Early last month, Massachusetts officials reported that retailers have now sold more than $5 billion in adult-use marijuana since the state’s recreational market launched five years ago. Sales reached $139.3 million in August alone, with the year-to-date total at $1.05 billion within the first eight months of 2023.

Michigan marijuana sales also reached another record high in July, with nearly $277 million worth of cannabis sold.

In Missouri, meanwhile, retailers have been selling about $4 million worth of marijuana per day on average since the state’s adult-use market opened up in February—and the state saw a record $121.2 million in cannabis purchases in June.

In Colorado’s more mature marijuana market, retail and medical marijuana sales have been slipping in recent years, down from a peak during the heights of the pandemic, though regulators announced this week that the state has passed the benchmark of more than $15 billion in legal marijuana sales since the adult-use market launched,. Annual sales peaked in 2021, when they reached about $2.2 billion, but have since declined and largely leveled out in the past two years.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Census Bureau published a map detailing how much of each state’s total revenue comes from legal marijuana activity. In some states, such as Oregon, cannabis at times has provided $1 out of every $20 in tax money received by the state. For Rhode Island, however, the latest available data comes from late 2022, at which point cannabis revenue made up just 0.13 percent of the state’s revenue.

Late last month the bureau published a report showing that legal cannabis states had collected more than $5.7 billion in marijuana tax revenue over an 18-month period, a figure it intends to update quarterly going forward. The agency also recently updated its survey of private businesses to better capture marijuana-related economic activity.

Together, the new tracking and reporting efforts—which come nearly a decade after the first state-legal sales of adult-use cannabis in the United States—indicate an increasing willingness by the federal government to acknowledge the billions of dollars flowing into state coffers annually as the result of state-level marijuana legalization, even as the substance remains federally illegal.

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Photo courtesy of Chris Wallis // Side Pocket Images.

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Ben Adlin, a senior editor at Marijuana Moment, has been covering cannabis and other drug policy issues professionally since 2011. He was previously a senior news editor at Leafly, an associate editor at the Los Angeles Daily Journal and a Coro Fellow in Public Affairs. He lives in Washington State.


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