At a press conference Wednesday, Rhode Island State Rep. Edith Ajello (pictured at right) and State Sen. Donna Nesselbush announced the introduction of a bill to make marijuana legal for adults 21 and older and establish a system in which marijuana is regulated and taxed similarly to alcohol. So far the bill has 19 sponsors, including Republican House Minority Leader Brian Newberry.
Under the Marijuana Regulation, Control and Taxation Act, criminal penalties for the private possession of up to one ounce of marijuana and for the home growing of up to three mature marijuana plants would be removed; a tightly regulated system of marijuana retail stores, cultivation and research facilities would be established; and the Department of Business Regulation would establish rules regulating security, labeling, health and safety requirements.
A story about the event in the Pawtucket Times conveyed Sen. Nesselbush’s strong case for the bill:
“Marijuana, like alcohol, has long been with us and is widely used,” Nesselbush told reporters at an afternoon news conference. “The question is: how are we going to deal with it?
“Will the state determine the time, place and manner or will we leave it up to criminals to sell it anywhere at any time to anyone? Will the state act boldly to create a legitimate industry that creates jobs and generates legitimate tax revenue or will we continue to unwittingly support gangs and cartels? Are we going to spend the hard-earned tax dollars from hard-working taxpayers to punish and incarcerate individuals for consuming a substance that appears to be less harmful than alcohol?”
The Rhode Island bill was rolled out just one day after members of Congress introduced historic legislation to regulate and tax marijuana like alcohol at the federal level. If you have yet to do so, please contact your represenative totday and encourage them to support an end to federal marijuana prohibition.
(Photo courtesy of Rebecca McGoldrick, Coalition for Marijuana Regulation)