The Rhode Island State Capitol Building in Providence, Rhode Island.

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Rhode Island Assembly to Vote on Creating Cannabis Legalization Committee

Lawmakers in Rhode Island are expected to vote on a measure today that would create a 17-member panel to “conduct a comprehensive review and make recommendations regarding marijuana and the effects of its use” to the General Assembly, laying the foundation for an adult-use legalization vote next session, the Providence Journal reports. The commission would be required to report its findings by Mar. 1, 2018.

The measure is sponsored by state Rep. Dennis Canario, a Democrat and retired police officer, and has the support of Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin and Smart Approaches to Marijuana – a group that opposes cannabis legalization.

The commission would be comprised of three senators and three representatives, providing that no more than two from each chamber are from the same political party; a representative from SAM, or a similar organization; a member of a pro-legalization group; the president of the Substance Abuse Mental Health Council of RI; the executive director of the Rhode Island Medical Society; the director of the state Department of Health; the president of the Rhode Island Police Chiefs Association; a member of the local chamber of commerce; an educator; a mental health professional; a representative of medical cannabis patients; and the attorney general.

The majority of the commission appointments would be made by the Senate president, while the remaining seats would be appointed by the House speaker.

A 2009 legislative study on the prohibition of cannabis in Rhode Island led to statewide decriminalization in 2010.

If the Assembly passes the measure it would be sent to Senate for consideration.

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