U.S. Naval War College

Rhode Island Governor Open to Cannabis Legalization Referendum

Gov. Gina Raimondo is open to the idea of putting the legalization question to Rhode Island voters, she told the Providence Journal on Tuesday.

“I could see Rhode Island eventually getting there,” she said. “But I’m not in a rush because there are issues of safety, how do you regulate it, how do you keep it out of the hands of kids, especially the edibles. I think there probably are some economic advantages to being first, but I’d rather get it right.”

According to Rhode Island state law, in order for the legalization issue to appear before voters at all, the state legislature must be willing to issue a referendum to consult the public — there is not a voter initiative process that advocates can rely on. In other words, the first steps of reform can only come from state lawmakers.

Gov. Raimondo has reportedly been in talks with Colorado’s Gov. John Hickenlooper about the aftereffects of legalization to determine whether or not such a course would be good for Rhode Island.

“I could see the logic in saying it’s the kind of thing that people ought to have a say in … It doesn’t say I’m committed to it, but I’m open to it,” she said.

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