Rhode Island Marijuana Legalization Hearing Wednesday

Rhode Island Marijuana Legalization Hearing Wednesday

PROVIDENCE, RI — Lawmakers in Rhode Island will hear testimony on several marijuana related bills on Wednesday, including legislation that would legalize and regulate the recreational use of marijuana by adults.

House Bill 5274, the Marijuana Regulation, Control and Taxation Act, was introduced earlier this month by Rep. Edith Ajello (D-Providence).

Testimony on the bill will be heard Wednesday, February 27, by the House Committee on Judiciary, which Rep. Ajello chairs, ensuring the bill should, at the very least, receive a fair hearing.

If passed, Rep. Ajello’s bill would make marijuana legal for adults 21 and older and establish a system in which marijuana is regulated and taxed similarly to alcohol. By passing this bill, Rep. Ajello hopes to take unregulated marijuana sales off the black market and out of the hands of minors.

“Regulating marijuana like alcohol will take marijuana sales off the street and put them in the hands of legitimate businesses that would face real disincentives for selling to minors, Rep. Ajello said at the bill’s introduction. “These new businesses will also create jobs and generate much-needed new tax revenue.”

The bill would remove criminal penalties for the private possession of up to one ounce of marijuana and for the home-growing of up to three mature marijuana plants in an enclosed, locked space; establish a tightly regulated system of licensed marijuana retail stores, cultivation facilities, and testing facilities; enact an excise tax of up to $50 per ounce on the wholesale sale of marijuana applied at the point of transfer from the cultivation facility to a retail store (sales tax will also be applied at the point of retail sales); and require the Department of Business Regulation to establish rules regulating security, labeling, health and safety requirements, as well as rules requiring advertising of marijuana to be no less restrictive than advertising of tobacco.

The proposal has received support from several prominent lawmakers at the State House, including House Minority Leader Brian Newberry (R-North Smithfield/Burrillville) and State Senator Donna Nesselbush (D-Pawtucket), who will sponsor the bill in the Senate.

The bill also has support from local and national marijuana reform organizations, who are hopeful the Rhode Island legislature will be receptive to considering the passage of this bill.  If the bill fails at the state house, similar legislation could be sent to the voters as early as 2014.

The Rhode Island legislature is no stranger to enacting marijuana reform bills, passing legislation that legalized medical marijuana in 2009 and decriminalized possession of marijuana in 2012.

While voters in Colorado and Washington voted to enact marijuana legalization initiatives in the 2012 elections, if HB 5274 passes, Rhode Island could be the first state to end prohibition at the State House.

Other bills scheduled for the hearing on Wednesday include House Bills 5063 and  5325, which would add Salvia and other synthetic cannabinoids to the state’s list of Schedule I drugs,  and House Bill 5437, which would give landlords the discretion not to lease or rent to medical marijuana cardholders who wish to cultivate marijuana on their property.

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  • Ralph Nader

    Legalize it!!!!

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  • chris9465

    Legalize it

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  • http://www.facebook.com/dmdit2 David Densmore

    Interesting, legalize the use of pot. It really bring to mind a few questions and
    point, such as

    First and foremost, offenders that are currently
    in jail, on probation or parole, or owe money and or fines for possession be
    forgiven or released?

    What will the legal limit of active THC in the
    lungs or blood steam be?

    Will police be equipped with the tools to
    measure these levels, via, a device like a blood sugar tester or a breathalyzer

    Does the technology even exist to determine if a
    person smoked 1 hour ago, vs. 12 hours ago?
    Did they smoke 1 gram or 3 grams?
    You know, since the By-product of THC in your system stays in your urine/blood
    for up to 30days depending on the persons Fat percentage metabolism, tolerance.
    Etc.. And the effects of the Active TCH
    can be felt for a duration of up to eight hours, depending on the potency of
    the product.

    Will the drug dealer find a way to be competitive
    with higher grade or un common strains of the drug, will legalized it shut them
    down at all or just make the focus more on better product??

    Will Employers be forced to hire people who use pot? They hire people who use alcohol but alcohol
    does leave the system much quicker, where as THC effect can last 3-8 hours and
    the by-product can be detected for a month or more. So what new employer and
    employee laws will be put into place?

    Will smoke bars be allowed to open, and does Hashish
    fall into the category of THC usage?

    Also will importing from other countries be
    allowed like from Canada, Mexico, South America, etc. as it is done with

    Will growers/manufactures be able to add
    additives to make the drug more addictive?

    Potency of the product, who will regulate the
    level of THC in the product to be sold in stores?

    Although it seem like a viable solution to the states money
    problems but, if a legalized pot law goes into effect before the answers to
    these types of question are provided or investigated, we as the public have a duty to weight in as
    to the fact that our state may not be think about protecting the public but
    rather only looking to fill the empty bank account for their miss spending of our tax
    dollars in the first place.

    I do believe one day
    “POT” will be legal, and after 5 or 10 years of open legal use, you will be
    able to see the same type of statistics you find with alcohol usage today. Right now people know they are breaking the
    law to enjoy a few moments of escape, so they are careful, cautious, and some
    are very secretive about it, but once it becomes legal you will see people
    who would have never even thought about using
    it while it was illegal trying it.
    Much more thought, and investigating must be done before we attempt to
    solve our money problems with taxing yet another drug.

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