rhode island medical marijuana dispensary
Ending Marijuana Prohibition

Rhode Island Marijuana Legalization Bill Hearing Gets A Hearing Tomorrow

rhode island medical marijuana dispensaryThe Rhode Island House Judiciary Committee is scheduled to hold a hearing Tuesday on a bill that would end marijuana prohibition in the state and replace it with a system in which adults can purchase marijuana from licensed businesses, similarly to alcohol. Shortly before the hearing, marijuana market researchers, business owners, and entrepreneurs will join Regulate Rhode Island for a news conference to discuss the legislation’s potential to foster new businesses and create thousands of jobs in Rhode Island.

The news conference will take place at 1 p.m. ET in the House Lounge of the Statehouse. The committee hearing is scheduled to take place in Room 101 at the rise of the House.

“This bill would provide a tremendous economic boost for our state, which is one of several reasons why our state legislators should not delay voting on it,” said Regulate Rhode Island Director Jared Moffat. “This proposal would create dozens of new businesses and thousands of new jobs across Rhode Island. Our state’s unemployment rate is still significantly higher than our neighbors’, and this legislation will put many Rhode Islanders back to work.”

H 7752, known as the Marijuana Regulation, Control, and Taxation Act, would make possession of limited amounts of marijuana legal for adults 21 years of age and older, and it would establish a tightly controlled system of licensed marijuana cultivation sites, testing facilities, and retail stores.

“Colorado’s legal marijuana market currently employs more than 20,000 people,” said Eric Casey, a regulatory analyst for 4Front Ventures, which researches the marijuana market and monitors marijuana regulatory issues. “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.”

“A recent analysis estimates that the legal marijuana market could infuse up to $44 billion each year into the U.S. economy by 2020,” said Adam Fine, an attorney for Vincent Sederberg, LLC, which offers legal services and consulting to state-legal marijuana businesses. “Savvy investors know that legal marijuana is the next big thing and are closely watching East Coast states like Rhode Island and Massachusetts. Whichever state moves to end marijuana prohibition first will certainly see a larger share of investment and business growth.”

WHAT: News conference to discuss the potential for H 7752 to foster new businesses and create thousands of new jobs in Rhode Island, followed by the House Judiciary Committee hearing on H 7752

WHEN: Tuesday, April 12, news conference at 1 p.m. ET, committee hearing at rise of the House

WHERE: News conference in the House Lounge of the Rhode Island Statehouse, committee hearing in Room 101

WHO: Spencer Blier, Rhode Island cannabis entrepreneur and investor

Eric Casey, regulatory analyst, 4Front Ventures

Adam Fine, attorney, Vicente Sederberg, LLC

Ross Kaplan, owner and co-founder, Heritage Cannabis Company

Raymond White, chief operating officer, Thomas C. Slater Compassion Center

Jared Moffat, director, Regulate Rhode Island

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Source: Regulate Rhode Island is a coalition of citizens and organizations committed to ending the failed policy of marijuana prohibition and replacing it with a system in which marijuana is regulated and taxed similarly to alcohol. Member organizations include the Rhode Island NAACP, Rhode Island ACLU, Rhode Island Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, Rhode Island Sierra Club, Rhode Island Republican Liberty Caucus, Rhode Island Young Democrats, Clergy for a New Drug Policy, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, and the Marijuana Policy Project, among others.

  • wowFAD

    This is great news. Supposedly, the RI House was going to be the hard-sell in their General Assembly. Support for legalization is, according articles from last month, strong in the RI Senate. The governor has also been “talking” to the governor’s office in CO about how they’ve fared — that means she’s open to legalization. Before this bill was scheduled for a hearing, she suggested putting a non-binding referendum on the 2016 ballot to gauge the support for legalization in her state. To me, that says she’s looking for reasons to legalize, as there are ample “easy-out” excuses to say/do otherwise.

    If this bill clears the judiciary committee hearing and garners enough support in the House, I don’t think it would be an uphill battle to convince the governor to sign the bill.

    Should the stars align and the Rhode Island House gets on board, that brings my list of 2016 potentials up from seven to eight: Arizona, California, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, Rhode Island, and Vermont. I’m confident at least four of these states will succeed. It’s hard to say which are the long shots. Best case scenario, they all pass, bringing the grand total of legal states from four to twelve. With twelve states regulating cannabis, other states like Ohio, Connecticut, New Hampshire, and Delaware could soon follow. Sadly, states without ballot initiatives will have to either significantly change their local political landscapes or wait on federal action. However, the more other states go green, the more pressure gets applied to prohibitionists and their allies, the more likely those possibilities become.

    • michael_ellis

      Yes and the New England states are so small that if one of them legalizes the others will be more or less forced to do so or lose tons of revenue. It’s only 51 miles from downtown Boston to downtown Providence. The CT border is less than 20 miles. Taken together the NE states (CT, RI, NH, VT, MN) comprise over 14 million people. http://www.dlt.ri.gov/lmi/census/pop/neweng.htm

      • wowFAD

        Thanks for that! I’m not from the NE, so information like that is always welcome. New Hampshire had several bills in their legislature that were all killed off, sadly — but that signals legislative momentum. The CT governor signed both medical use and decriminalization bills, so despite his February comments about not being “comfortable” with legalization, he’s generally open-minded, so I’m sure he’ll reconsider adult use within the next few years, once his neighbors start seeing the benefits with zero downsides. With the Maine and Massachusetts ballot initiatives in the 2016 queue as well as the legalization bills pending in both Vermont and Rhode Island, the Northeast will ideally set the gold standard for their neighbors to the Southwest: New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Maryland. The more states that legalize in the next five years, the more likely the drug war topples, completely.

  • massman

    RI politicians are making Massachusetts politicians look like complete fools on the issue of legalization.

  • saynotohypocrisy

    How likely is cannabis use to lead to catastrophe compared to alcohol use? How can politicians use alcohol and in good conscience tell other adults they can’t use cannabis? How is this not the rankest hypocrisy? How do they expect people to respect the law when they pass patently bogus laws?

  • MrPC

    If Rhode Island legalizes, it will create the cannabis version of New Jersey’s gambling boom. Downtrodden, un-stoned residents of the surrounding states will flock to The Ocean State.

    • saynotohypocrisy

      Rhode Island’s economy needs the boost more than Vermont’s does. That might make the difference this year.