Rhode Island lawmakers are revisiting the notion to legalize marijuana. For the seventh year, lawmakers will introduce a bill that would allow adults to consume cannabis recreationally. However, advocates are optimistic that the proposal may finally get a vote this time, in part because of the wins marijuana had in the 2016 election.
Both Maine and Massachusetts declared adult-use marijuana legal on Election Day, joining the western states of Washington, Oregon, California, Alaska, and Nevada. The Marijuana Policy Project’s Mason Tvert said, “Now that Massachusetts has passed and made it clear the way things are headed. These guys are going to want to jump in.” Tvert said that his organization is hopeful to push legislation in Vermont and maybe other New England states in 2017.
State Representative Scott Slater and State Senator Joshua Miller, both Democrat, are making a proximity debate this time, saying that residents will cross the border to purchase legal marijuana in Massachusetts and that Rhode Island will “lose significant ground” in the process. Sales in Colorado exceeded $1 billion in 2016, yielding more than $150 million in tax revenue for the state. This gives supporters ammo for making the financial dispute, as well.
If Rhode Island were to make the move, it would be the ninth state to legalize consumption of marijuana for adults, as well as the first state to do so through the legislature instead of the ballot box. Both chambers of the legislatures are controlled by Democrats. Governor Gina Raimondo expressed openness to the idea last year. She said that she is “looking at whether Rhode Island should legalize recreational marijuana.” Medicinal cannabis has been legal in the Rhode Island since 2006. Americans’ support for legalizing recreational cannabis hit a high of 60% in October, with 67% of Democrats and 42% of Republicans voicing their approval, according to Gallup.
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