A new survey confirms that an overwhelming majority of Rhode Island voters support legalizing marijuana for adults. The poll, commissioned by WPRI 12 and Roger Williams University and conducted by Fleming & Associates, found that 56% of respondents favor ending marijuana prohibition, while only 37% were against the idea. Another 7% were undecided.
Leaders in the General Assembly have consistently refused to allow legislators to vote on marijuana legalization in recent years. This new poll provides further evidence that these politicians are out of touch with the Rhode Island people.
Legal marijuana sales will start in Massachusetts any day now, and the new Rhode Island legislative session begins in January 2019. With the public solidly on the side of reform, there is no excuse for delay, and there is no excuse for the General Assembly to not vote on legalization in this upcoming year.
The Marijuana Policy Project and Regulate Rhode Island are planning to mobilize constituents and organize an effective campaign to call on the General Assembly to vote on a legalization bill during the upcoming session.
Stay tuned for more updates soon!
Three out of five Rhode Islanders agree that it’s time to legalize marijuana for adult use. The conversation that should be taking place among state policymakers is not if Rhode Island should legalize and regulate marijuana. They should be discussing how it will be done.
Yesterday, we published a comprehensive new report addressing the best way for Rhode Island to legalize, regulate, and tax marijuana. We are sharing this document with lawmakers in an effort to accelerate the process and move us closer to enacting real policy.
Although three New England states have already ended marijuana prohibition, Rhode Island’s state legislature continues to delay serious consideration of legalization. Unfortunately, lawmakers are now thinking about extending the legalization study commission established last year, which will only delay progress. However, another bill has been introduced which would put the issue to the voters.
We need the General Assembly to stop dragging its feet and take action. If you are a Rhode Island resident, please contact your state senator and representative and urge them to take action this year on marijuana policy reform.
Later today, the Rhode Island House is scheduled to vote on a flawed piece of legislation that would establish a 22-person “study commission” on marijuana legalization. According to the bill, a handful of the designated members in the study commission would be representatives of organizations that are part of our Regulate Rhode Island coalition.
Today, the coalition announced that we would not participate as members of this flawed study commission if it is established.
We have talked with legislators throughout the session, and they are interested in practical questions about how to establish a well-regulated marijuana market. We do not believe the proposed study commission can offer recommendations for how to legalize and regulate marijuana if the commission does not acknowledge that marijuana should be legalized and regulated at the outset.
Regulate Rhode Island Director Jared Moffat released the following statement in a press release:
“The proposed study commission is not a good faith effort to analyze the issue, it is a flawed delay tactic. It would engage in the same legalization debate that has already taken place during the legislative process. It is not intended to find a solution to Rhode Island’s marijuana prohibition problem; it is intended to avoid one. The only people who benefit from delaying legalization — which is what this study commission would do — are the illegal dealers who are currently profiting from selling marijuana.
“Regulate Rhode Island’s members will not participate in the study commission because we are not interested in helping lawmakers once again avoid a vote on legalization. Sen. Miller and Rep. Slater have proposed a very reasonable compromise that deserves an up-or-down vote in the House and Senate this year. Rhode Islanders deserve to know where their elected officials stand on this issue. We call on House Speaker Mattiello and Senate President Ruggerio to stop stalling and allow our legislators to vote on legalization.”
We remain committed to our demand that the General Assembly hold a vote on a real legalization bill this year. If you are a Rhode Island resident, please call your legislators, and tell them to vote against the flawed study commission legislation and demand a vote on our simple and reasonable compromise proposal.
Our compromise would make up to an ounce of marijuana legal for adults ages 21 and older starting July 2018, when stores would open in Massachusetts. It would also create a small advisory board to study how Rhode Island could regulate and tax marijuana in the future.
On Tuesday, Regulate Rhode Island and allies made a strong case to the House Judiciary Committee to vote on H 5555, the legislation to regulate marijuana similarly to alcohol. Click below to watch testimony from:
- Rep. Scott Slater, primary sponsor of H 5555
- Jim Vincent, president of the NAACP Providence branch and co-chair of Regulate Rhode Island
- Dr. David Nathan, founder and board president of Doctors for Cannabis Regulation
- Rev. Jamie Washam, pastor of First Baptist Church of America
- Matthew Schweich, director of state campaigns for Marijuana Policy Project
- Jared Moffat, director of Regulate Rhode Island
If you are a Rhode Island resident, please call your representative in the General Assembly, and tell them to ask House leadership to allow a vote on legislation to legalize and regulate marijuana this year.
The Speaker of the House, Nick Mattiello, has the ultimate say on whether the bill will move forward in the House this year. He needs to hear from his members in the House that this is a priority for them.
Next week on Tuesday, September 13, Rhode Island will hold its primary election across the state. You can see your sample ballot and look up your polling location by visiting the Secretary of State’s website.
Regulate Rhode Island recently partnered with Motif Magazine to conduct a marijuana policy survey of candidates running for a seat in the General Assembly. The candidates were then assigned a letter grade based on their responses and — in the case of incumbents — their record on marijuana policy bills.
You can look up your district and see the results for your local candidates who responded here. The results are also included in the most recent print edition of Motif Magazine.
It is crucial that supporters of sensible marijuana policy reform remain engaged in local politics. That is why it is important to not only vote, but also to contact your elected officials and educate them on the many reasons to support regulating and taxing marijuana for adult use.
The Rhode Island legislative session came to close early on Saturday morning. Unfortunately, despite overwhelming public support for reform, leaders of the House and Senate did not allow legislators to vote on the Marijuana Regulation, Control, and Taxation Act this year.
Other notable outcomes of the 2016 legislative session include:
-- Passage of legislation to add post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to the list of qualifying conditions for medical marijuana.
-- Passage of legislation to regulate hemp cultivation.
We will continue our efforts to build support for ending the failed policy of marijuana prohibition in the summer and fall, with plans to work with lawmakers to re-introduce legislation to legalize and regulate marijuana in the 2017 legislative session.
In the meantime, we encourage supporters of sensible marijuana policy reform to become engaged in local legislative races and make marijuana policy reform a salient electoral issue. You can find information about local races in your district by visiting the Rhode Island Secretary of State’s website.
On Thursday night, the Rhode Island legislature was called into recess with many bills still awaiting final approval. There is talk from legislative leaders about calling the legislature back in September or October to address these important issues. Considering its overwhelming public support, we believe the Marijuana Regulation, Control, and Taxation Act should be one of the proposals considered when lawmakers return to Providence. But we need you to make this happen.
If you are a Rhode Island resident, please email your lawmakers and ask them to consider the Marijuana Regulation, Control, and Taxation Act if they reconvene this fall.
Colorado and Washington already treat marijuana like alcohol, and Alaska and Oregon are implementing similar programs. At least five states are considering ballot questions replacing prohibition with regulation in 2016, including neighboring Massachusetts. Rhode Island can and should be a regional leader by taking control of their marijuana market as soon as possible.
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.
Rhode Island’s next legislative session begins in January, so it’s important that we continue to build support for taxing and regulating marijuana like alcohol. If you are a Rhode Island resident, please join us at these upcoming events to learn how you can help end marijuana prohibition in 2015.
Cannabis Caucus, 8 p.m., Thursday, September 18: Regulate Rhode Island hosts an evening of music, activism, and conversation this Thursday at Aurora, 276 Westminster Street, Providence 02903. Check out the Facebook event page for more details.
Regulate RI coalition strategy meeting, 1 p.m., Saturday, September 27: Our coalition meets regularly to coordinate efforts and discuss collaborative projects. Please join us at 143 Prairie Avenue, Providence, 02905 at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 27.
Public forum on marijuana policy, 6:30 p.m., Tuesday, November 18: Save the date! We’re organizing a public forum on regulating marijuana like alcohol with experts from around the state and country at Brown University on Tuesday, Nov. 18.
Volunteering opportunities, September - October: Leaders at the State House need to know their constituents support ending the failed policy of prohibition by responsibly regulating marijuana. Help us collect signatures from supporters in key legislative districts in September and October by emailing Jared Moffat at email@example.com to get involved.
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.