Cannabis – Another Shot at Legalization

prohibitionRep Scott Slater

Truck tolling got all the attention this week at the statehouse, but stalwart efforts to introduce a legislative change that would likely have 1000 times the financial impact on daily lives in RI also took a small step forward, if mostly under the radar.

Tax and Regulate legislation was proposed and will be reviewed in committee. It’s the 5th year (imagine how far ahead of the curve we might have been 5 years ago!) that this bill has been proposed, with only small improvements and details happening from year to year. It has yet to make it out of committee, but there are a few reasons hopes are higher that this could be the year it finally reaches a vote:

  • Massachusetts is committed to voting on similar legislation this year.
  • The “wait and see” contingent can now review 2 years of data from Colorado and Washington where impact on consumption has been negligible but impact on economies has been enormous.
  • Numerous polls by different organizations all indicate that the public overwhelmingly favors this course. Although this has been true for a few years, one assumes that in an election year fewer litigators will choose to ignore the views of their constituents.
  • Taxes on medical marijuana, proposed last week in the Governor’s budget, which threaten the health of many medical marijuana patients, have a lot of people reacting with thoughts along the lines of: “Maybe we shouldn’t tax medicine, maybe we should tax recreational consumption the way we do alcohol.”

New elements this year are mostly refining the packaging and labeling requirements for edibles containing marijuana, including stricter allowances for childproof packaging. There are also new allowances for taxes raised from local establishments to make their way back to those community funds.

The legislation is being proposed by House Representative and Deputy Majority Leader Scott Slater (D District 10) and Senator Josh Miller (D District 28). This time out, the bill has the support of 17 sponsors – almost half – of the senate chamber including Senator Majority Leader Dominick Ruggerio (D District 4) and Judiciary Committee Chairman Michael McCaffrey (D District 29).

This is the year to write your rep or state senator and show your support for this overdue legislation.

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