Rhode Island state lawmakers recessed the legislative session late Thursday leaving hundreds of bills, including a widely supported proposal to make marijuana legal for adults and regulate it similarly to alcohol, pending action. Legislative leaders have indicated they may call a special session in the fall to finish their agenda.
“Lawmakers’ decision to recess without voting on this widely supported legislation is disappointing, to say the least,” said Regulate Rhode Island Director Jared Moffat. “We believe we have the votes needed to pass the measure this session, and we’re optimistic that we’ll still have the votes if and when they come back for a special session. We hope to work with leaders in both chambers over the summer to ensure lawmakers are given a chance to cast them.”
In addition to laying out the framework for a regulated hemp industry, H 5777/S 510, the Marijuana Regulation, Control, and Taxation Act, would allow adults 21 years of age and older to possess up to one ounce of marijuana and grow one mature marijuana plant in an enclosed, locked space. It would also 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 a wholesale excise tax at the point of transfer from a cultivation facility to a retail store, as well as a special sales tax on retail sales to consumers.
“Support for legalizing and regulating marijuana is growing in Rhode Island and nationwide,” Moffat said. “It’s only a matter of time. Marijuana prohibition can run, but it can’t hide.”
H 5777/S 510 is supported by a broad coalition of public health researchers, medical doctors, clergy, retired law enforcement officials, economists, local business owners, and community leaders. It is also supported by a diverse group of organizations including the New England Area Conference of NAACP Chapters, the Rhode Island Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, the Rhode Island Republican Liberty Caucus, the Univocal Legislative Minority Advisory Commission, and the Rhode Island state affiliates of the National Organization for Women, the Sierra Club, the American Civil Liberties Union, the Young Democrats, and the Libertarian and Green parties.
Fifty-seven percent of Rhode Island voters support changing state law to regulate and tax marijuana similarly to alcohol, according to a survey conducted in April by Public Policy Polling. Only 35% were opposed. The full results are available at http://bit.ly/1IiFCNt.
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Regulate Rhode Island is a coalition of citizens and organizations committed to ending the failed policy of marijuana prohibition and replacing it with a system in which marijuana is regulated and taxed similarly to alcohol. For more information, visit http://www.RegulateRI.com