Rhode Island Legislators Recess, May Vote on Marijuana Regulation Bill If They Reconvene This Fall


On Thursday night, the Rhode Island legislature was called into recess with many bills still awaiting final approval. There is talk from legislative leaders about calling the legislature back in September or October to address these important issues. Considering its overwhelming public support, we believe the Marijuana Regulation, Control, and Taxation Act should be one of the proposals considered when lawmakers return to Providence. But we need you to make this happen.

If you are a Rhode Island resident, please email your lawmakers and ask them to consider the Marijuana Regulation, Control, and Taxation Act if they reconvene this fall.

Colorado and Washington already treat marijuana like alcohol, and Alaska and Oregon are implementing similar programs. At least five states are considering ballot questions replacing prohibition with regulation in 2016, including neighboring Massachusetts. Rhode Island can and should be a regional leader by taking control of their marijuana market as soon as possible.

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Rhode Island Billboard Urges Lawmakers Considering New Stadium to Make Marijuana Legal


Earlier this week, Regulate Rhode Island unveiled a billboard aimed at encouraging legislators to pass a bill that would regulate and tax marijuana in the state.

The “Field of Dreams”-themed ad features stadium lights shining on two young professionals standing among a small field of marijuana plants, and it reads, “If we build it, they will come… It’s time to establish a regulated marijuana market in Rhode Island.” You can view the image here: http://bit.ly/1ztvnI0

Legislators are currently considering S 510/H 5777, the “Marijuana Regulation, Control, and Taxation Act,” which would end marijuana prohibition in Rhode Island and replace it with a system in which marijuana is regulated and taxed similarly to alcohol. They are also considering using taxpayer funds to build a new stadium, also in the hopes of bringing jobs and other financial benefits to the area.

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Rhode Island Legislature Considering Regulating Marijuana Like Alcohol


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.

Huffington Post reports:

 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 CoastRegulate_RI_Release_Logo.png 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.

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MPP’s Rob Kampia Gives His Take on What’s Next for Marijuana Legalization


Executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project, Rob Kampia, discusses what’s next for the push to make marijuana legal in the United States:

The state that will most likely be next to legalize is Rhode Island, which would be the first to do so via state legislature. Also this spring, the District of Columbia is expected to enact a similar law through its city council.

There’s also a real opportunity to legalize marijuana through five more state legislatures between now and 2017 – Delaware, Hawaii, Maryland, New Hampshire, and Vermont. There will also be serious legislative activity in other states, such as New York, but it is less clear when such legislation will pass.

In November 2016, at least five states are expected to vote on similar ballot initiatives – Arizona, California, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada – and one could potentially appear on the ballot in Missouri.

By the end of 2017, marijuana could be legalized in 15 states and D.C., which would comprise 26% of the nation’s population.

Read the rest of Kampia’s column here.

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The Marijuana Policy Project is Already Gearing Up for 2016


Marijuana advocates made history with three huge Election Day victories in Alaska, Oregon, and Washington D.C. and are optimistic for what the future holds.

“The stage is now set for 2016, when measures to regulate marijuana like alcohol are expected to appear on ballots in at least five states,” said Mason Tvert, communications director for the Marijuana Policy Project, which was instrumental in passing legalization in Colorado and bankrolled the successful campaign in Alaska.

The five states where MPP has already established committees to push ballot measures in 2016 are Arizona, California, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada. The measures will likely be similar to the Colorado model, just as the measures in Oregon and Alaska were.

MPP also plans to work to help make marijuana legal through state legislatures, rather than ballot measures. The states that we are focusing on include Rhode Island, Vermont, New Hampshire, Delaware, Hawaii, and Maryland.

Most importantly, the upcoming push to make marijuana legal in those states will undoubtedly draw on the lessons learned from the successful marijuana policy reform campaigns so far — which, according to Tvert, fall into two categories. The advocates in Alaska and Colorado focused more on diminishing the fears concerned with the potential harms of marijuana by comparing the substance to alcohol, while advocates in Oregon and Washington argued that making marijuana legal is the safer alternative to marijuana prohibition.

“Our goal from the beginning was to get this message across that marijuana is less harmful than alcohol so that when that last month comes around, and the opponents are trying to scare people away from marijuana by saying it’s so dangerous, their reaction will be to say ‘yeah, but it’s less harmful than alcohol,’” Tvert stated.

Ultimately, by the looks of Tuesday’s election results, marijuana prohibition is on its way out. Moreover, momentum for sensible marijuana policy reform is growing across the country.

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MPP Files Committee in California to Support 2016 Initiative to Legalize and Regulate Marijuana


The Marijuana Policy Project filed a committee with the California Secretary of State’s Office today to support a 2016 statewide ballot initiative to legalize and regulate marijuana for adult use.

The new committee, the Marijuana Policy Project of California, will start raising funds immediately to help place a measure on the ballot.

According to a statement from MPP Executive Director Rob Kampia:

Rob Kampia

“A diverse coalition of activists, organizations, businesses, and community leaders will be joining together in coming months to draft the most effective and viable proposal possible. Public opinion has been evolving nationwide when it comes to marijuana policy, and Californians have always been ahead of the curve.”

The announcement has generated quite a bit of media interest, which began with a mention in a Washington Post story summarizing the statewide efforts currently underway to end marijuana prohibition.

It noted MPP has filed committees in Arizona, Massachusetts, and Nevada for 2016, and it plans to focus on making marijuana legal through state legislatures in Delaware, Hawaii, Maryland, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont over the next few years.

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Help End Marijuana Prohibition In Rhode Island


Rhode Island’s next legislative session begins in January, so it’s important that we continue to build support for taxing and regulating marijuana like alcohol. If you are a Rhode IslandRegulate_RI_Release_Logo resident, please join us at these upcoming events to learn how you can help end marijuana prohibition in 2015.

Cannabis Caucus, 8 p.m., Thursday, September 18: Regulate Rhode Island hosts an evening of music, activism, and conversation this Thursday at Aurora, 276 Westminster Street, Providence 02903. Check out the Facebook event page for more details.

Regulate RI coalition strategy meeting, 1 p.m., Saturday, September 27: Our coalition meets regularly to coordinate efforts and discuss collaborative projects. Please join us at 143 Prairie Avenue, Providence, 02905 at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 27.

Public forum on marijuana policy, 6:30 p.m., Tuesday, November 18: Save the date! We’re organizing a public forum on regulating marijuana like alcohol with experts from around the state and country at Brown University on Tuesday, Nov. 18.

Volunteering opportunities, September – October: Leaders at the State House need to know their constituents support ending the failed policy of prohibition by responsibly regulating marijuana. Help us collect signatures from supporters in key legislative districts in September and October by emailing Jared Moffat at [email protected] to get involved.

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Rhode Island Primary Is Two Weeks Away – Where Do The Candidates Stand?


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 candidatesWhen 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.  

If you are a Rhode Island resident, please get out and vote on Tuesday, September 9, and pass this message on to other Rhode Island voters who support humane and fiscally sound marijuana policies. The New York Times agrees that regulation — not prohibition — is the more sensible approach to marijuana policy; we hope the next governor of Rhode Island does, too.


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Clock Runs Out On Proposal to Tax and Regulate Marijuana in Rhode Island


Over the weekend, lawmakers in Providence wrapped up the 2014 legislative session. Despite majority public support for the idea, they adjourned without bringing the Marijuana Regulation, Control, and Taxation Act up for a vote. However, we are undaunted.RI 2 MPP and our allies in Rhode Island are committed to seeing that the will of the people is enacted, and we need your help.

Colorado and Washington already treat marijuana like alcohol, and many other states are considering doing so as well. This should come as no surprise considering that, like alcohol, marijuana is responsibly used by millions of Americans daily but, unlike alcohol, has never caused a lethal overdose. What sense does it make to waste limited resources enforcing failed marijuana prohibition?

While we are disappointed the bill didn’t pass this year, we are not discouraged. This long overdue policy change enjoys majority support among voters, and the Regulate Rhode Island coalition continues to grow and strengthen. If you are a Rhode Island resident, please ask your lawmakers to support this bill next year and then ask your supportive friends and family in Rhode Island to do the same.


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Rhode Island ReportShows Taxing Marijuana Could Generate Tens of Millions in Revenue


A report released yesterday by Rhode Island-based OpenDoors estimates that passage of the Marijuana Regulation, Control, and Taxation Act will generate between $21.5 to $82 million in annual tax revenue. Although it would not completely solve Rhode Island’s budget woes, revenue from legal sales of marijuana to adults could help ease the financial burdens the state is facing.
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Every day across Rhode Island, otherwise law-abiding men and women purchase and consume marijuana illegally. Proceeds from these sales go untaxed and only serve to enrich criminal actors. Bringing adult marijuana sales above board allows the state to tax both wholesale and retail marijuana transactions and provides much greater transparency over who sells it, where, and to whom. 

In addition to the generating revenue, passage of the Marijuana Regulation, Control, and Taxation Act will create hundreds of jobs in an emerging industry.

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