Regulate RI proposes marijuana legalization compromise; speaker’s office says too late this session

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Regulate Rhode Island and their legislative allies proposed “incremental legalization” as a compromise for marijuana legalization. But, within minutes Speaker of the House Nick Mattiello's office said legalization legislation is dead for the session and that Mattiello was supporting the study commission bill.

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"The Speaker is committed to HB 5551, which has passed the committee on House Judiciary. It passed on on Tuesday night and will be brought to floor this week -- he'll vote for that, which creates now a 22 member committee to review all aspects to what legalization would entail," Larry Berman, spokesperson for Mattiello told GoLocal. "We haven't seen the compromise.  It's the 11th hour."

“We are prepared to compromise in a significant way, but there must be progress on the issue this year. Our proposal balances the will of the majority of voters who want marijuana to be legal for adults while respecting colleagues who want to slow things down and get the regulations right,” said Senator Joshua Miller. 

The new advocates legislation would: 

•    Legalize possession of an ounce or less for adults 21 and older on July 1, 2018 when marijuana retail stores are scheduled to open in Massachusetts.

•    Establish a six-person advisory board comprised of two state officials selected by the governor, two state senators, and two state representatives to study outcomes of legalization in other states and issue a report by January 1, 2018 with recommendations for the General Assembly on how to establish a system for taxing and regulating marijuana in Rhode Island.

This compromise follows the approval of a 22-person study commission on Marijuana legalization on Tuesday. 

“Rhode Island voters want to see progress on this issue, and a 22-person study commission will not be constructive. It would simply be a repeat of the debate we have already had for the past several years. Instead of asking ‘if’ we should legalize marijuana, which is a question best addressed by the existing committee process in the General Assembly, we should study ‘how’ legalization could be implemented. Our proposal is a more sensible approach that represents a meaningful first step toward finally ending the failed policy of marijuana prohibition in Rhode Island,” said Matthew Schweich, director of state campaigns for the Marijuana Policy Project.

Who Supports, Opposes Marijuana Legalization in RI




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