Rhode Island Lawmakers Introduce Legislation for Adult Cannabis Use

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Rhode Island is poised to pass a comprehensive cannabis legalization law this year. After months of negotiations among leaders in the General Assembly, the state is making significant progress. 

Details of the Policy

Rep. Scott Slater and Sen. Josh Miller, and cosponsors in the House and Senate, introduced identical bills to legalize, regulate, and tax cannabis for adults. The long-awaited legislation results from many months of discussions among top lawmakers in the state. This includes Senate President Dominic Ruggerio and Speaker of the House Joseph Shekarchi. They believe this is the year Rhode Island joins 18 other states with cannabis legalization. 

The legislation would:

  • Allow adults to possess and purchase up to one ounce of cannabis and cultivate up to three cannabis plants in their homes;
  • Establish a three-member commission appointed by the governor and leaders of the General Assembly to oversee the regulation and licensing of cannabis businesses;
  • Impose a cannabis retail excise tax of 10%, in addition to the normal sales tax rate of 7%, with another 3% local sales tax;
  • Requires a quarter of all new retail licenses awarded to applicants qualify as social equity businesses and another quarter of new licenses to worker-owned cooperatives; and
  • Create a social equity assistance fund to provide grants, job training programs, and social services for communities disproportionately impacted by cannabis criminalization.

The state will move forward will several committee meetings, starting with one at the end of the month. 

Marijuana Policy Project’s Reaction

The Marijuana Policy Project has worked with lawmakers and organizations in the state to advance legalization. Jared Moffat, state campaigns manager for MPP, praised lawmakers for this latest step forward:

“We are grateful to Speaker Shekarchi, Senate President Ruggerio, and their staff for the many months of work that went into finding common ground and crafting a thoughtful proposal that will end the failed policy of cannabis prohibition and create many economic and social benefits for the state. We’re looking forward to the public discussion on this important issue, and we’re excited that Rhode Island appears poised to join 18 other states that have legalized cannabis for adults later this year.”

Rhode Island Gov. Dan McKee has previously expressed support for legalizing cannabis. He also included a separate legalization proposal in his omnibus budget bill introduced in January. MPP intends to work with legislators and other stakeholders to propose improvements. This includes establishing a process for automated record clearance for past cannabis arrests and convictions.

A comprehensive summary of the legislation can be found here for more information. Additionally, the full text of the measure can be found here. Check back for more details regarding this legislation.

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