Earlier this month, a bill to regulate and tax marijuana similarly to alcohol was introduced in the Rhode Island legislature.
The Marijuana Regulation, Control, and Taxation Act, introduced by Sen. Joshua Miller (D-Cranston) and Rep. Scott Slater (D-Providence), would allow adults 21 and older to possess up to one ounce of marijuana and grow one mature marijuana plant in an enclosed, locked space. It would create a tightly regulated system of licensed marijuana retail stores, cultivation facilities, and testing facilities and direct the Department of Business Regulation to create rules regulating security, labeling, and health and safety requirements. It would also establish wholesale excise taxes at the point of transfer from the cultivation facility to a retail store, as well as a special sales tax on retail sales to consumers.
A 2014 poll found 52 percent in favor of changing marijuana laws, mirroring national trends. This is the fourth year that legislation to regulate and tax recreational marijuana has been introduced. It’s unclear whether state lawmakers will support the new measure.
Legalized marijuana would boost the state treasury by $58 million a year in taxes, the Marijuana Policy Project projected.
“We want Rhode Island to be a leader on the East Coast and become an early adopter in order to get a competitive edge in the regional market to maximize job creation, tax revenue, and business growth in our state,” Jared Moffat, director of the marijuana policy reform group Regulate Rhode Island, told The Huffington Post.
The leader of the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, David Boyer of Falmouth, submitted the language along with the signatures of five registered Maine voters who support the measure, as required by state law. The five signers were State Rep. Diane Russell of Portland; local farmer and former Republican State Rep. Aaron Libby of Waterboro; Androscoggin County Commissioner and Lewiston School Board Member Matt Roy; Rev. Deane Perkins of Belfast; and Sherry DaBiere, a York-based real estate agent and grandmother.
Under the proposed initiative, adults 21 years of age and older would be allowed to possess up to one ounce of marijuana, grow up to six marijuana plants in their homes, and possess the marijuana produced by those plants. The measure would establish a tightly regulated system of licensed marijuana retail stores, cultivation facilities, product-manufacturing facilities, and testing facilities. Marijuana would be subject to a 10% sales tax in addition to the standard sales tax, and revenue generated by marijuana sales would be allocated public education.
The Maine Secretary of State has 15 days to review the initiative application and either reject it, accept it, or provide revisions to the proposed measure. Once it is approved, the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol will have until the end of January 2016 to collect the approximately 62,000 signatures of registered Maine voters that are needed to qualify for the November 2016 ballot.
Earlier today, the Nevada Assembly missed its last opportunity to vote on Initiative Petition 1, which proposes legalizing, taxing, and regulating marijuana for adults 21 and over. Since the legislature did not approve the measure itself, the measure will appear on the ballot for the 2016 general election. This inaction means Nevadans will have to wait until late next year for the chance to end their state’s destructive and costly prohibition of marijuana.
Please “like” Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol in Nevada on Facebook so that the campaign can keep you posted as the ballot initiative campaign gets underway. While polls show strong public support, we can’t take victory for granted. We’ll need your help to get the word out and run a strong campaign.
As many in Colorado and Washington have already learned, legalization allows adults who prefer a substance that is safer than alcohol avoid arrest, jail, and damaged futures. The Initiative to Tax and Regulate Marijuana also affords greater access for seriously ill patients, because patients who suffer from conditions that are not currently included in the state medical marijuana program — such as Alzheimer’s disease — lack legal protections. And, of course, legalization saves scarce law enforcement resources for serious crime, while providing revenue to the state.
But while the Nevada Legislature missed this opportunity, history continues to move forward, and Nevada voters will have the final say come November 8, 2016. Please stay tuned for more updates.
The following guest post, contributed by MedMen, is part of a guest series providing insights into the legal marijuana industry.
The marijuana policy reform movement is coalescing around the idea of regulating marijuana like alcohol. While most supporters of ending marijuana prohibition appear to stand behind this idea, others have expressed concerns about the prospect of a tightly regulated marijuana market. While some of them are valid — high barriers to entry, for example — there are three reasons why regulating marijuana like alcohol is the best path forward: safety, security, and consistent quality.
Marijuana officially became legal for adults in Alaskaas the legalization initiative approved by voters in November took effect on February 24. As we (and state lawmakers) expected, the sky did not fall in The Last Frontier, which is now the third state in the nation to allow adult marijuana use.
Under Ballot Measure 2, it is legal for 21 years of age and older to possess up to one ounce of marijuana, grow up to six marijuana plants in their homes, and possess the yield of those plants in the location where it was grown. It also creates a system of regulated marijuana cultivation and sales — which the state legislature is currently in the process of developing — that will allow for licensed businesses to sell marijuana to adults.
The Marijuana Policy Project was the largest backer of the campaign in support of Ballot Measure 2, and we are now working with state and local activists, organizations, and officials to implement the best possible regulatory system. MPP also used “legalization day” as an opportunity to introduce its Consume Responsibly campaign to Alaska. The initial effort entailed ads on the side of city buses in Anchorage reminding adult marijuana consumers that, “With great marijuana laws comes great responsibility.”