Marijuana legalization could happen in Rhode Island as early as this coming autumn, says top state lawmaker.
PROVIDENCE — Rhode Island House Speaker Joseph Shekarchi says that marijuana legalization and further reform could happen “soon” in the state. At least, that’s what Speaker Shekarchi told Kim Kalunian, an anchor for CBS affiliate WPRI serving Providence and New Bedford, Massachusetts, in an interview that aired earlier this week.
“I think it’ll be soon, but I’m not in any hurry to legalize recreational marijuana for the sake of legalizing it,” Shekarchi said, noting in the interview that he “doesn’t feel pressured by how fast other states are moving” to legalize recreational marijuana.
“It doesn’t matter to me if we’re the last state in the union to legalize it or we never legalize it, but I need to do it right.”
“I need to make sure that we do this right for the taxpayers of Rhode Island and for the medical community, the business community,” the speaker continued. “This needs to be done properly, and I’m not going to be rushed into it because other states are moving fast. I want to learn from other states, look at the mistakes they’ve made, look at what’s worked in other states, collaborate with them and work to put out a good product.”
Rhode Island is ripe for a drastic policy change. For example, Democratic Gov. Dan McKee signed into law legislation that promotes safe consumption sites for intravenous drug users. The Rhode Island Senate also adopted legislation that legalizes marijuana last month. However, the bill has yet to see major moves given that there are competing proposals for recreational marijuana legalization and regulation implementation.
“I don’t see it happening before Labor Day,” the speaker added. He went on to blame the “lack of air conditioning” in the State House would likely prevent the legislature from returning in the middle of the summer.
He believes that action won’t take place until late September or early October of this year.