The Rhode Island Judiciary Committee is having hearing today to discuss several bills relating to marijuana including a bill to legalize marijuana for recreational use for adults over 21. The bill is being pushed by Rep. Scott A. Slater of Providence who also has 2 other bills on the hearing agenda relating to marijuana regulation. The legalization of cannabis for recreational use would create a significant improvement to Rhode Island’s economy and thus finds many supporters of the bill.
Regulations of the H7752 Bill
The H7752 bill, also referred to as the Marijuana Regulation, Control, and Taxation Act would allow adults over 21 to possess small amounts of marijuana for personal recreational use as well as permit users to grow 1 flowering plant and grow a total of 2 plants at any given time. The bill also sets regulations to be followed by licensed commercial growers and marijuana stores. The passing of the bill would introduce a new industry into Rhode Island’s economy, opening up jobs in all the areas of marijuana cultivation, processing, sales and regulation. It would also introduce a new stream of income for the state through taxation of marijuana.
According to Eric Casey, an analyst for 4Front Ventures, there are over 20,000 people working in Colorado’s legal marijuana industry. He says “instead of continuing to have an out of control underground market, Rhode Island has the opportunity to create a responsibly regulated, legal market. Workers will be better protected, provided salaries and benefits, and paying into the tax system.” Rhode Island’s current unemployment rate is very high and the introduction of thousands of new jobs would put many in the state back to work. Regulate Rhode Island’s Director Jared Moffat has been very vocal about the “tremendous economic boost” the legalization of cannabis would bring, saying this is “one of several reasons legislators should not delay voting on it.”
Legalization of Cannabis Across a Number of Bills
Slater is presenting another bill that would allow more permits for medical marijuana compassion centers to be distributed. This would raise the number of centers from 3 to 6. He is also presenting a bill that would include post-traumatic stress disorder to be included in the ‘debilitating medical conditions’ approved for medical marijuana use. This would also speed up medical marijuana applications for hospice care. There is another separate noteworthy bill being pushed by marijuana advocates, forbidding employers from discriminating against medical marijuana patients and denying them work. All bills being presented go to further establishing healthy and fair marijuana regulations for the state of Rhode Island.
Despite Rhode Island lawmakers discussing bills involving the legalization of cannabis for the last 4 years without successfully passing any of them, many are hopeful that this year will be different. Other surrounding states are considering similar bills and the projected financial gain may also help to encourage legalization. The millions in income for the state and the thousands of jobs made available for the people of Rhode Island is a massive opportunity for gain that cannot be ignored or delayed any longer.