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Lawmakers In Rhode Island Announce Marijuana Legalization Legislation

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rhode island marijuana legalizationBy Erik Altieri, NORML Communications Director

At a press conference this afternoon, State Senator Josh Miller (D-Cranston) and Representative Edith H. Ajello (D-Providence) will announce and discuss their proposed legislation that would make Rhode Island the third state in the country to legalize and regulate the possession, cultivation, and retail sale of cannabis for adults.

This legislation would allow adults 21 and older to possess up to one ounce of marijuana and grow up to two marijuana plants in an enclosed, locked space. It would establish a tightly regulated system of licensed marijuana retail stores, cultivation facilities, and testing facilities.

“Rhode Island now joins over a dozen other state legislatures that are debating measures to legalize marijuana this year,” stated NORML Communications Director Erik Altieri, “A majority of Rhode Island voters, and Americans in general, support replacing our failed prohibition policy with one of regulation. Elected officials are wise to see that the desires of their constituents are being represented and we commend Representative Ajello and Senator Miller for being leaders on this issue.”

RHODE ISLAND RESIDENTS: Please consider calling your members of the state Senate and House of Representatives to urge them to co-sponsor this important legislation. Click here to find out who your elected officials are and their contact information.

Suggested script:

Hi my name is (name), and I live in (city/town) in your legislative district. As you might know (Chairwoman Edith Ajello/Senator Josh Miller) is introducing a bill to tax, regulate, and control marijuana like alcohol. (He/She) is currently recruiting co-sponsors for this important bill. Our current policy of marijuana prohibition has been a total failure, and when something is broken, it needs to be fixed. Regulating marijuana is the right solution because it would take control away from illegal dealers, and it would help Rhode Island’s economy. I urge you to join (Chairwoman Ajello/Senator Miller) and co-sponsor this sensible legislation. Thank you.

You can also click here to quickly and easily email your elected officials in support of this legislation using NORML’s Take Action Center.

Source: NORML - make a donation

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18 Comments

  1. The list is really about special interest groups who operate in the U.S. and contribute money to PACs and politicians . Last I checked, the drug cartels did not have lobbyists. You’re correct that the MMJ industry is probably nervous about legalization, but I don’t think they carry the same political heft that police unions, big tobacco, private prisons, and pharmaceuticals do.

  2. I believe the ounce possession is out in the public. Colorado had the same questions with regards to yield but it turned out to be one ounce possession in public. I suspect RI will be the same.

  3. You seem to have left off the MMJ businesses and the drug cartels. Both would lose a lot, if not everything, if full legalization went into effect.

  4. The Ocean State has a healthy ag sector and is the home of a Land Grant College, URI, with a pharmacy school and a pharmacognosy program (drugs from plants) that could study the medicinal uses of MJ. Not only that, RI is broke & looking for new sources of revenue. Could be good for farmers, good for tax income, good for people who want to use it legally. Not so good for the prisons etc. — which is good!

  5. This just goes to show you how much influence the Mexican Drug Cartels have over New Mexico State politicos. Cannabis should be legalize and the taxes earmarked for college students grant and when the state receive a windfall from taxing cannabis let’s hope the politicos don’t cut taxes do to surplus the state will from legalize cannabis, just say yes ,grow your own!

  6. “By my count, 13 states may follow Colorado and Washington State’s lead and legalize recreational use—either at the ballot box or in state capitols. Medical marijuana is on the table in 16 states. Five states may decriminalize possession, replacing criminal penalties with civil fines.

    Of the 20 states that do not have a push underway this year, 12 have already OK’d medical marijuana or decriminalization. Additionally, activists in at least three states with nothing currently underway are organizing 2016 initiative drives.”

    http://reason.com/archives/2014/02/08/legal-pot-coming-soon-50-state-marijuana

  7. The Top 5 Interest Groups Lobbying To Keep Marijuana Illegal:

    ___________________________

    Last year, over 850,000 people in America were arrested for marijuana-related crimes. Despite public opinion, the medical community, and human rights experts all moving in favor of relaxing marijuana prohibition laws, little has changed in terms of policy.

    There have been many great books and articles detailing the history of the drug war. Part of America’s fixation with keeping the leafy green plant illegal is rooted in cultural and political clashes from the past.

    However, we at Republic Report think it’s worth showing that there are entrenched interest groups that are spending large sums of money to keep our broken drug laws on the books:

    1.) Police Unions: Police departments across the country have become dependent on federal drug war grants to finance their budget. In March, we published a story revealing that a police union lobbyist in California coordinated the effort to defeat Prop 19, a ballot measure in 2010 to legalize marijuana, while helping his police department clients collect tens of millions in federal marijuana-eradication grants. And it’s not just in California. Federal lobbying disclosures show that other police union lobbyists have pushed for stiffer penalties for marijuana-related crimes nationwide.

    2.) Private Prisons Corporations: Private prison corporations make millions by incarcerating people who have been imprisoned for drug crimes, including marijuana. As Republic Report’s Matt Stoller noted last year, Corrections Corporation of America, one of the largest for-profit prison companies, revealed in a regulatory filing that continuing the drug war is part in parcel to their business strategy. Prison companies have spent millions bankrolling pro-drug war politicians and have used secretive front groups, like the American Legislative Exchange Council, to pass harsh sentencing requirements for drug crimes.

    3.) Alcohol and Beer Companies: Fearing competition for the dollars Americans spend on leisure, alcohol and tobacco interests have lobbied to keep marijuana out of reach. For instance, the California Beer & Beverage Distributors contributed campaign contributions to a committee set up to prevent marijuana from being legalized and taxed.

    4.) Pharmaceutical Corporations: Like the sin industries listed above, pharmaceutical interests would like to keep marijuana illegal so American don’t have the option of cheap medical alternatives to their products. Howard Wooldridge, a retired police officer who now lobbies the government to relax marijuana prohibition laws, told Republic Report that next to police unions, the “second biggest opponent on Capitol Hill is big PhRMA” because marijuana can replace “everything from Advil to Vicodin and other expensive pills.”

    5.) Prison Guard Unions: Prison guard unions have a vested interest in keeping people behind bars just like for-profit prison companies. In 2008, the California Correctional Peace Officers Association spent a whopping $1 million to defeat a measure that would have “reduced sentences and parole times for nonviolent drug offenders while emphasizing drug treatment over prison.”

    _______________________

    If this bill doesn’t pass in Rhode Island, it will be because the police unions fought it kicking and screaming. They don’t want to see their budgets decrease, so all they care about is maintaining the status quo. If marijuana were legal, one revenue stream that would cease for police would be asset forfeiture. Any time a dealer is arrested any cash is confiscated, 20% goes to the federal government and the rest goes to the local governments. It’s become clear that the war on drugs, specifically marijuana, is not about public safety, it’s about money. Luckily our state government is amenable to the influence of money. The senate president Teresa Paiva-Weed and house speaker Gordon Fox will ensure nothing changes by doing everything possible to table this bill for another year for “further study”.

  8. There may be technical problems with RI’s law, if it passes as it is described above. One possible problem: adults can possess up to one ounce, or grow two plants. What about when you chop down the plants, do you immediately run afoul of the law if your two plants yield more than one measly combined ounce? RI will allow people to grow marijuana, poorly?

  9. That’s awesome news. However I better not read or hear in the next few days that it died in the legislature. That seems to be happening to much with these legalization proposals in a lot of state legislatures. I expect Rhode Island and others to see it through. No more excuses.

  10. Hey, spammer — do us all a favor, and die horribly in a fire.
    I’d like to go ONE day on this blog without spam. Just one!!!

  11. Go Rhode Island! Some state tourism officials here in Colorado have their panties in a bunch, carrying on about how legal cannabis might give the state a bad image (with geriatric Republicans). If pot were legalized in several more states, that argument would make even less sense, since Colorado and Washington wouldn’t be the only ones.

  12. I’ve lost count of how many states are proposing full legalization, this year. I know there have been at least six or seven. Honestly, I follow medical cannabis news more closely. Does anyone know?