New Rhode Island Poll Finds Strong and Widespread Support for Regulating Marijuana Like Alcohol

Feb 07, 2017


Three out of five Rhode Island voters (59%) are now in favor and only 36% are opposed; additional local polls found strong majority support in Providence, Warwick, Cranston, Newport, North Kingstown, and Burrilleville/Glocester

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — A new poll shows momentum is building behind the effort to end marijuana prohibition in Rhode Island. Regulate Rhode Island director Jared Moffat held a news conference Tuesday at the State House to discuss the results. He was joined by Sen. Joshua Miller (D-Cranston) and Rep. Scott Slater (D-Providence), who recently introduced the Cannabis Regulation, Control, and Taxation Act.

According to the new poll from Public Policy Polling (PPP), about three out of five voters in the state (59%) are now in favor of regulating and taxing marijuana like alcohol, up from 57% in 2015. Only about one out of three voters (36%) is opposed. The statewide survey of 759 registered Rhode Island voters was conducted January 27-29 and has a margin of error of +/- 3.6%. The full poll results are available at http://www.regulateri.com/polling.

“Rhode Island has the opportunity to become the third New England state to regulate marijuana for adult use,” said Miller, chairman of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee. “The results of this poll confirm that our constituents want us to follow the same path as Massachusetts and Maine.”

Separate polls of voters in various Rhode Island cities and towns found support for regulating and taxing marijuana is strong throughout the state:

•    Providence: 62% in favor; 31% opposed (354 respondents; MOE +/-5.2%)
•    Cranston: 58% in favor (up from 50% in 2015); 41% opposed (195 respondents; MOE +/-7.0%)
•    Warwick: 61% in favor; 35% opposed (254 respondents; MOE +/-6.2%)
•    Newport: 64% in favor (up from 58% in 2015); 33% opposed (156 respondents; MOE +/-7.9%)
•    North Kingstown: 53% in favor; 45% opposed (225 respondents; MOE +/-6.5%)
•    Burrillville/Glocester: 70% in favor; 27% opposed (187 respondents; MOE +/-7.2%)

PPP polls conducted in 2015 also found 60% support in Coventry, 63% support in Cumberland, 52% support in Johnston, and 54% support in Narragansett.

“A strong and growing majority of voters support our proposal to regulate marijuana,” Rep. Slater said. “Our job is to represent the people of this state, and their position on this issue is pretty clear. It’s time to replace the senseless policy of marijuana prohibition with a sensible policy of regulation.”

The Cannabis Regulation, Control, and Taxation Act would allow adults 21 and older to possess up to one ounce of marijuana and grow one mature marijuana plant in an enclosed, locked space. It would establish the Office of Cannabis Coordination within the executive branch, which would be charged with coordinating among state agencies to establish a tightly regulated system of licensed marijuana retail stores, cultivation facilities, processing facilities, and testing facilities. The legislation would also create a 23% excise tax on retail marijuana sales in addition to the standard 7% sales tax.

“Most Rhode Islanders recognize prohibition has failed and seem to view regulating marijuana is a no-brainer,” Moffat said. “Regulation better protects young people, improves public health and safety, and creates more economic opportunities for workers and entrepreneurs in our state. No matter how you look at it, this is clearly a smart path for us to take. Lawmakers would be wise to follow the will of their constituents.”

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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. Member organizations include the Rhode Island NAACP, Rhode Island ACLU, Rhode Island Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, Rhode Island Sierra Club, Rhode Island Republican Liberty Caucus, Rhode Island Young Democrats, Clergy for a New Drug Policy, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, and the Marijuana Policy Project, among others. For more information, visit http://www.RegulateRI.com.