Rhode Island Lawmakers Fighting to Legalize the Leaf in 2017

A couple of Rhode Island lawmakers want to ensure that Massachusetts and Maine are not the only New England states relishing in all of the fun when it comes to legal weed.

Earlier this week, State Senator Joshua Miller teamed up with State Representative Scott Slater in an effort to push the legislative brass into pulling the state out of the grips of prohibitionary times. This is the seventh time a bill of this magnitude has been submitted, but, with some minor tweaks to make it more palatable to state leaders, it seems highly probably the measure will get the proper attention in the coming months.

“We have a responsible, fine-tuned bill, and we should pass it this year,” Miller said in a statement. “This year’s bill addresses the issues that have been raised by the governor and stakeholders, and it is streamlined to work effectively with the regulatory structure in place for medical marijuana.”

This legislative offering, aptly titled the “Cannabis Regulation, Control, and Taxation Act,” would give adults 21 and older the freedom to possess up to one ounce of marijuana and cultivate a single cannabis plant at home for personal use. Yet, the biggest takeaway is that it would establish a taxed and regulated cannabis industry that would allow adults to purchase marijuana from retail pot shops in a manner similar to beer.

The legislation calls for a 23 percent excise tax in addition to the current 7 percent sales tax, according to a press release.

Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo said last year that she would have to look at marijuana legalization “harder and faster” if Massachusetts voters brought down the walls of prohibition in the November election.

She told the Providence Journal: “If I could get myself comfortable that we, the state, could legalize in a way that keeps people safe, keeps children safe, folks aren’t getting sick, then I would be in favor,” of legal weed.

It was predicted a couple of years ago that Rhode Island would become the first state in the nation to legalize the leaf by way of the state legislature. However, despite the issue having bipartisan support, there was enough indecision within the legislative chambers to ultimately prevent legal marijuana from seeing the light of day.

But now that eight states have legalized the herb for recreational use, and the latest national polling numbers show 60 percent of the American population now believes the rest of the nation should do the same, Rhode Island lawmakers hope the state is finally prepared to get progressive.

“Any lawmaker who wants to delay passage of this important legislation should be prepared to explain to the voters why they do not want to improve the economy and raise revenues,” said Slater.

Some reports show that Rhode Island stands to generate $58 million in annual tax revenue through the sale of recreational marijuana.

You can keep up with all of HIGH TIMES’ marijuana news right here.

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