PROVIDENCE, R.I. — A lottery to select the operators of five new medical marijuana dispensaries in Rhode Island has been scheduled for Friday, state officials said.

To ensure a fair process, the lottery scheduled for Oct. 29 will be public and livestreamed, using numbered balls from the state Lottery, and picked by a blindfolded former FBI agent from a transparent tumbler borrowed from Twin River Casino, according to the Department of Business Regulation’s Office of Cannabis Regulation.

Twenty-three pre-approved companies have submitted 37 applications for the right to open a dispensary in five zones across the state. Some companies have submitted applications for more than one zone.

A lottery to select a dispensary for a sixth zone in the Newport area will not be held because one company that was disqualified from the process has appealed.

Rhode Island currently has three medical marijuana dispensaries, in Providence, Portsmouth and Warwick.

State lawmakers in 2019 approved expanding the number of dispensaries to nine to improve access and increase competition.

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