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. 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?
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.
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.
Rhode Island Senate Health and Human Services Committee Chairman Josh Miller and House Judiciary Committee Chairwoman Edith Ajello held a press conference today to announce that they will introduce a bill to legalize, tax, and regulate marijuana similarly to alcohol. The founder of Brown University’s Alcohol & Addiction Studies Center, a former Providence police officer, and other opinion leaders joined them to call for this more sensible approach.
The Marijuana Regulation, Control, and Taxation Act is similar to the laws in Colorado and Washington. The proposal would allow individuals 21 and older to possess and cultivate limited amounts of marijuana. It also directs the Department of Revenue to license and regulate marijuana producers and 10 retail marijuana stores. This sensible approach to marijuana would create new industries with new jobs and raise needed revenue for the state. It would also allow law enforcement focus on more serious crimes.
State Representative Edith Ajello (D – Providence) and state Senator Josh Miller (D –Cranston) are currently reaching out to their colleagues to ask them to sign on to their proposal to replace Rhode Island’s marijuana prohibition with a system that regulates marijuana for adults’ use. If you are a Rhode Island resident, email your state representative and senator today and ask them to sign on to this bill as a cosponsor!
The Marijuana Regulation, Control, and Taxation Act is similar to the laws that voters approved in Colorado and Washington in 2012. The proposal would allow individuals 21 and older to possess and cultivate limited amounts of marijuana. It also directs the Department of Revenue to license and regulate marijuana producers and retail marijuana stores. This sensible approach to marijuana would create new industries with new jobs and raise needed revenue for the state. It would also allow law enforcement focus on more serious crimes.
Earlier today, MPP released a new poll finding that a clear majority of Rhode Islanders support “changing Rhode Island law to regulate and tax marijuana similarly to alcohol.” Fifty-three percent of Rhode Island voters favor marijuana policies similar to those in Colorado, where adults 21 and over can purchase marijuana from regulated stores; only 41% oppose this policy change. If you are a Rhode Island resident, please take a brief moment tocall both your state representative and your state senator and ask them to support ending marijuana prohibition in 2014.
Over the past couple of years, it’s become apparent that marijuana prohibition is coming to an end. It is no longer a question of if Rhode Island will legalize marijuana for adults and regulate it like alcohol, but when. Passing legislation this session will allow the state to begin creating hundreds of much-needed jobs and realizing tens of millions in annual tax revenue. With the state facing a $150 million budget hole and Rhode Island having the highest unemployment rate in the nation, let your lawmakers know now is the time to end marijuana prohibition in the Ocean State.