Rhode Island Lawmakers Look to Legalize Marijuana

Two state lawmakers in Rhode Island are seeking to legalize marijuana in their state.

State Rep. Edith Ajello (D) has introduced H5274,  the Marijuana Regulation, Control and Taxation Act. Her partner on the bill in the state Senate says something needs to be done.

“Taxing and regulating the sale of marijuana will rob drug dealers of one of their reasons for being,” state Senator Donna M. Nesselbush (D) said. “It will likely reduce crime, weaken gangs and cartels and allow our hard-working law enforcement officials to focus on serious and/or violent crime. Taxing and regulating would also create the potential for much-needed state revenue that could be used for treatment and education about the consequences of drug use and the promise of healthful living.”

Rhode Island's State CapitolThe Marijuana Policy Project applauds and supports the efforts of these lawmakers in RI. “The bill would allow individuals 21 and older to possess and cultivate limited amounts of marijuana,” they said. “It would also direct the department of revenue to license and regulate marijuana producers and retail marijuana stores. This sensible approach to marijuana would let law enforcement focus on more serious crimes.” The bill is similar to Amendment 64, passed recently in Colorado.

Last year advocates were able to get marijuana decriminalization enacted, removing the threat of jail time for simple marijuana possession and revising the state’s medical marijuana law to ensure full implementation of the medical marijuana dispensary program.

“It is time for Rhode Island to put the failed policy of marijuana prohibition behind us and adopt a more sensible approach just as our nation did with alcohol 80 years ago,” Representative Ajello said. “By keeping marijuana sales in the underground market, we are ensuring they will be uncontrolled and that those selling it are not asking for proof of age. Regulating marijuana like alcohol will take marijuana sales off the street and put them in the hands of legitimate businesses that would face real disincentives for selling to minors. These new businesses will also create jobs and generate much-needed new tax revenue.”

Recreational marijuana legalization is something that is going to be a hot news topic for the next decade or more as more states attempt what Washington and Colorado accomplished last year. The momentum is great, and it just makes sense to stop letting the black market control marijuana.

Rhode Island is small, but people across the country deserve the freedom to decide the course of their adult lives, as long as they don’t infringe on the rights of another. Maybe adults in Rhode Island will get that opportunity soon.

– Joe Klare

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