Rhode Island
Last Update: April 9, 2014

R.I. debating regulating marijuana like alcohol; new report shows bill would generate up to $82 million in taxes per year

On Wednesday, February 12, Rhode Island Senate Health and Human Services Committee Chairman Josh Miller and Rep. Edith Ajello joined the Marijuana Policy Project, Regulate Rhode Island, and a handful of local opinion makers at a press conference announcing the introduction of a bill to legalize, regulate, and tax marijuana similarly to alcohol. If you are a resident of the Ocean State, please email your state representative and senator today and ask them to support this legislation!

The Marijuana Regulation, Control, and Taxation Act is similar to the laws in Colorado and Washington. The proposal would allow individuals 21 and older to possess and cultivate limited amounts of marijuana. It would also direct the Department of Revenue to license and regulate marijuana producers and 10 retail marijuana stores. This sensible approach to marijuana would create new industries with new jobs and raise needed revenue for the state. A recent report issued by OpenDoors estimates that the state would receive between $21.5 and $80 million a year in tax revenue as a result of this policy change.

Many thanks to Dr. David Lewis, Beth Comery from LEAP, Michelle McKenzie from Protect Families First, and our friends at Regulate Rhode Island for helping spread the word that regulation is superior to prohibition.

Please be sure to sign up for MPP's legislative alerts so that you can stay up-to-date with the act’s progress. 

2012 proves to be big year for marijuana policy reform in Providence

In 2012, MPP — along with our local allies — helped usher through much needed marijuana policy reform in Rhode Island. The legislature and Gov. Lincoln Chafee removed the threat of jail time for simple possession of marijuana and revised the state’s medical marijuana law to ensure full implementation of the medical marijuana dispensary program.

In June 2012, Gov. Chafee signed legislation to replace the criminal penalties for adults’ possession of up to an ounce of marijuana with a civil violation of $150 for most violations! S2253/H7092 was sponsored by Sen. Josh Miller and Rep. John Edwards and went into effect on April 1, 2013. MPP worked with an outstanding group of advocates in Providence, and we are grateful to everyone who made the victory possible. Among the many positive outcomes, this victory will help ease the effects of disturbing racial disparities in marijuana-related policing. According to the ACLU, in 2010, African Americans in Rhode Island were 2.6 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than their white neighbors.  

In May 2012, a full year after halting implementation of the compassion center program citing fears of federal interference, Rhode Island Gov. Chafee signed legislation that was written to alleviate his concerns and to finally get the compassion centers open. The revised law allows patients and caregivers to sell any excess medical marijuana they have directly to the compassion centers. Two compassion centers opened in spring of 2013.

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