Time for Rhode Island to Tax and Regulate Marijuana

A guest column from MPP’s Mason Tvert appeared today in the Providence Journal in Rhode Island. An excerpt is below, and you can click here to read the entire piece.

Few social movements have advanced as far and as fast over the past decade as marriage equality and marijuana policy reform.

An October Gallup poll found a record-high 58 percent of Americans think it is time to make marijuana legal — a far cry from the 25 percent support when the same question was asked in 1995. In July, the pollster found a record-high 54 percent of Americans support recognizing same-sex marriage, up from just 27 percent in early 1996.

For both movements, increased public support has translated into legislative victories. Twenty states and the District of Columbia have legalized the use of marijuana for medical purposes since 1996, and two states, Colorado and Washington, adopted laws last November to regulate marijuana like alcohol. Sixteen states and our nation’s capital now recognize same-sex marriage, with Hawaii and Illinois becoming the 15th and 16th this month.

Rhode Island has made significant headway on both issues.

The General Assembly approved a limited form of domestic partnership in 2002. In 2006, it approved a limited form of marijuana legalization, allowing individuals with certain debilitating illnesses to use it for medical purposes if their doctors recommend it. Lawmakers authorized civil unions in 2011, and last year the state decriminalized possession of small amounts of marijuana.

Despite marijuana policy reform leading in the polls nationwide, marriage equality beat it to the finish line in Rhode Island with this year’s passage of a bill legalizing same-sex marriage. Meanwhile, the legislature punted on a bill to create a regulated and taxed marijuana market for adults. Despite being sponsored by a bi-partisan coalition of 19 House and Senate members, it did not receive a vote and instead was “held for further study.”

Now that legislators are over the rainbow, it’s time to take advantage of the pot of gold.

2 thoughts on “Time for Rhode Island to Tax and Regulate Marijuana”

  1. Keep an eye on your leaders and who they get money from. Because the effort to put legalization on the ballot in Maine failed, because the Drug War profiteers, bereft of any other options, have resorted to purchasing our leaders to keep the issue from ever reaching the voting public. Because they know that at this point, wherever legalization gets on the ballot it WILL pass.

    Let your leaders know that there are consequences for not respecting the will of the people, and there are consequences for accepting Drug War profiteer money. Get their names and, if they torpedo the ballot initiative, make their names synonymous with Drug War profiteering. Make sure their names are associated with bribery, greed, and dishonesty. Make it clear to anyone else who runs that supporting legalization is a winning campaign platform, and encourage them to run against any legislators who vote “no”. Make legalization an issue they can’t ignore, and make sure the public votes out those who vote “no” the moment they have the chance, hopefully in favor of those new candidates who run on a pro-legalization platform. We need to make every politician afraid to oppose marijuana legalization, in the same way they have previously been terrified to support it. We need to make it clear that the votes are in favor of legalization, and to vote against it is to mark yourself an enemy of the state and forfeit your job. (How appropriate, right, since they have for forty years made it so that to speak in favor of legalization was to mark yourself an enemy of the state and forfeit your job so that people on our side had to be terrified to speak openly about the facts. Turnabout is fair play.)

    We need to make sure there are serious consequences for any politician who fails to support legalization at this point, because that is the final front on which our enemies have to fight this. This is their last stand. If they can keep us from being allowed to vote our will on legalization, they will win, so we must vote our will on the politicians who fail to support legalization or we will fail.

  2. Agree 100% with demonhype. Couldn’t have put it better myself. It’s time for the voice of the people to be heard

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