Tuesday, September 9, is Primary Election Day in Rhode Island. With an open race for the top slot in the state, all eyes are on the gubernatorial primary races. Next year, the legislature will continue discussing whether Rhode Island should replace marijuana prohibition with sensible regulations, so it is important to know how the candidates for governor view the issue.
Democratic primary gubernatorial candidates: When asked in March, all three major candidates — Gina Raimondo, Angel Taveras, and Clay Pell — indicated that they are monitoring the effects of regulation and taxation in Colorado and Washington. However, all indications are that Taveras is the least open to marijuana regulation — he stated that he is “not currently supportive of legalization.” This is not too surprising considering Taveras has received public support from prominent marijuana prohibitionist and former Congressman Patrick Kennedy.
Republican primary gubernatorial candidates:On the Republican side of the coin, Ken Block has said he will withhold judgment until he can “see the results in Colorado and Washington.” His opponent, Allan Fung, not only opposes “the legalization of marijuana for recreational use,” but also makes no mention of even being interested in results from Colorado and Washington.
The report, authored by John Hudak, a Brookings fellow in Governance Studies, determined that “the state has met challenging statutory and constitutional deadlines for the construction and launch of a legal, regulatory, and tax apparatus for its new policy. In doing so, it has made intelligent decisions about regulatory needs, the structure of distribution, prevention of illegal diversion, and other vital aspects of its new market. It has made those decisions in concert with a wide variety of stakeholders in the state.”
More and more evidence is showing that states can, and should, regulate marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol. As an increasing number of Americans decide that they are sick of arresting adults for using marijuana responsibly, the lessons from the states that have regulated marijuana successfully will become even more important.
According to the Seattle Post Intelligencer, 25 shops across the state are expected to open today, with more opening in the weeks and months to follow. Adults 21 and over will be able to purchase up to an ounce of marijuana from licensed establishments that must pay taxes and ensure that products are tested and properly labeled. Because the first growers have not been licensed for long, prices may be high and supply may be short in these first months of legal sales.
For decades, marijuana prohibition has drained our federal, state, and local governments of resources while failing to prevent use or abuse. The voters of Washington wisely chose a new approach: Taxing and regulating marijuana cultivation and distribution to adults. Considering it is far safer than alcohol, it’s about time it’s treated similarly.
It’s been exactly six months since legal retail marijuana sales began in Colorado, and today is the first day that retail marijuana business licenses are open to all applicants — not just those who previously held medical marijuana licenses.
In these brief six months, the Centennial State has already experienced overwhelmingly positive results! There has been a 10.1% decrease in overall crime from 2013. As of May, the state had collected $10.9 million in taxes from adult use stores alone. The Department of Revenue has licensed nearly 600 retail marijuana businesses — including dispensaries, cultivators, and infused products manufacturers — and 10,043 individuals to work in the industry.
State regulators and state police recently performed sting operations on 20 different marijuana stores in the Denver and Pueblo areas to determine compliance with state law, reports 9 News. The conclusion they reached was undisputed: None of the stores were breaking the law by selling marijuana to people under the age of 21. In Colorado, marijuana is regulated similarly to alcohol, including the stipulation that people without medical marijuana licenses may only purchase marijuana from retail establishments if they are 21 or older. The sting operations involved sending underage customers into stores to attempt to buy marijuana while being supervised by police officers. Shops who break the law face huge fines and can have their licenses revoked.
During the course of these sting operations, not a single underage buyer was allowed to purchase marijuana from any of the 20 shops. Business owners have welcomed this announcement as an important sign of the legitimacy of the industry and the effectiveness of the regulatory structure. In response to this news, Lewis Koski, the director of the Colorado Marijuana Enforcement Division, issued a statement. He said, “We are pleased with the results and will continue to monitor the businesses to ensure that the compliance efforts are maintained.”