Rhode Island, the second New England state to permit the sale of medical marijuana, opened its first dispensary on Friday.
Located on in Providence, the Thomas C. Slater Compassion Center will initially sell marijuana cultivated by growers participating in the state’s medical marijuana program; however, it plans to begin growing its own medicine to sell as soon as possible.
The state will likely add more dispensaries in the coming months in Warwick and Portsmouth.
Gov. Lincoln Chafee
As of yesterday, April 1, 2013, possession of up to an ounce of marijuana is no longer subject to an arrest, a criminal charge, or the threat of jail time under Rhode Island law! Thanks to legislation sponsored by Sen. Josh Miller and Rep. John “Jay” Edwards and signed into law by Gov. Lincoln Chafee, individuals found in possession of up to an ounce of marijuana will now be given a civil citation of $150. Those under 18 will also have their parents notified and will be required to attend an alcohol and drug education course and perform community service. Third and subsequent violations within 18 months are still grounds for a misdemeanor.
This MPP-led effort is yet another step towards rational marijuana policy. Until marijuana is regulated and taxed similarly to alcohol, sales will remain uncontrolled, and they will continue to prop up drug cartels instead of legitimate Rhode Island businesses. Repealing criminal penalties for marijuana possession slows the bleeding, but repealing marijuana prohibition will heal the wound.
If you are a Rhode Island resident, please email your lawmakers and urge them to support the Marijuana Regulation, Control, and Taxation Act.
The Rhode Island House Judiciary Committee convened this evening to take testimony on H 5274, the Marijuana Regulation, Control, and Taxation Act. This bill, sponsored by Rep. Edith Ajello, would end Rhode Island’s marijuana prohibition, replacing it with a system in which marijuana is taxed, regulated, and sold in a manner similar to alcohol. This is now the third session in a row that the Marijuana Policy Project has teamed with legislative champions like House Judiciary Chair Edith Ajello, community advocates, and allied policy organizations to make the case that marijuana should be regulated like alcohol, a far more dangerous substance. And for the third year in a row, I was so honored to be in Providence to participate.
Members of the Coalition for Marijuana Regulation testify in support of H 5274
The news blog GoLocalProv just ranked the bills being considered in the Rhode Island General Assembly as the “most likely to have a swift and immediate impact on residents throughout the Ocean State and the ones most likely to take up the majority of the General Assembly’s time.”
Naturally, the Marijuana Regulation, Control, and Taxation Act, or H 5274, came in at Number 2 on the list! Continue reading
The Boston Herald reported today that lawmakers in New England have been emboldened by the 2012 victories in Colorado and Washington. Rhode Island, Maine, and Massachusetts are addressing the prospect of taxation and regulation of marijuana. Vermont is considering decriminalization, and New Hampshire is pushing to legalize medical marijuana.
While the reform discussion isn’t entirely new in the northeast – Rep. Ellen Story (D-MA) has submitted multiple bills in the past – MPP is optimistic about present and future measures in the region and is lending its support. MPP’s communications manager, Morgan Fox, told the Herald, “We’ve just won the first two victories in what’ll be a long road. The wind’s at our back now.”