Lawmakers in Rhode Island are on the way towards legalizing recreational marijuana.
PROVIDENCE — Rhode Island could be the next state in New England to legalize recreational marijuana for adult use, following leaders in Connecticut signing into law a similar bill. Currently, members of the Rhode Island Senate voted to easily approve a bill that legalizes recreational cannabis. The bill that was approved is S. 598 on a vote of 29 to 9 in favor of passage, notes a statement from the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP).
The House has until the end of the legislative session to approve the bill and send it to the desk of Gov. Dan McKee, a Democrat. The session is scheduled to adjourn on June 30.
Gov. McKee is also expected to sign any marijuana legislation, due to his outspoken support for marijuana liberalization and reform.
For the Marijuana Policy Project, the advancement of S. 598 is a positive sign.
“This is a significant milestone,” said Jared Moffat, the state campaigns manager for MPP. “After roughly a decade of public discussion and debate in Rhode Island, this is the first time a legislative chamber in the General Assembly has voted on a bill to legalize cannabis for adults. Polls have long shown that a majority of Rhode Islanders support ending marijuana prohibition, and now we’re closer than ever to getting the job done.”
“Senate leaders deserve tremendous credit for their work on this important issue,” added Moffat. “Now it is time for the House to act and ensure that a cannabis legalization bill is sent to Gov. McKee’s desk before the clock runs out in the regular legislative session.”
Two other legalization measures were submitted before the state legislature. However, neither gained serious traction, let alone viable support from legislative leadership.
According to local news reports, Democratic House Speaker Joe Shekarchi said that lawmakers will likely address the creation of a legal marijuana industry in a special session that might be scheduled later this year.
The Senate proposal would impose a 20 percent tax on all marijuana sales and ould create an independent cannabis control commission and would permit home cultivation.