Rhode Island State Senator Joshua Miller and Sate Representative Scott Slater have announced that they will soon file companion bills to legalize cannabis.
“We have a responsible, fine-tuned bill, and we should pass it this year,” Miller, chairman of the Senate Committee on Health and Human Services, said at a Wednesday news conference. “This year’s bill addresses the issues that have been raised by the governor and stakeholders; it is streamlined to work effectively with the regulatory structure in place for medical marijuana.”
Miller continued; “Polls of residents in towns across Rhode Island show a majority of voters in our state support this proposal. Our constituents think it is time for lawmakers to pass this legislation, and we should listen to them.”
The measure is being titled the Cannabis Regulation, Control, and Taxation Act. It would allow those 21 and older to possess up to an ounce of cannabis; they could grow up to one plant at a private residence, in an enclosed, locked space. The bill also allows cannabis retail outlets, with taxes set at 23% at the point of sale.
“Eight states have passed laws to regulate and tax cannabis for adult use,” noted Representative Slater. “We have had several years to see how regulation works in Colorado and Washington; and we have learned important lessons from their experiences.”
Rhode Island is one of the most likely states to become the first to legalize cannabis through the legislature (all eight states where cannabis is legal had it accomplished through citizen initiative); Democrats control both the House and Senate, and Democratic Governor Gina Raimondo is open to the idea of legalization.