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 Coast 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.
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?
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.