Rhode Island Lawmakers Advance Cannabis Legalization Bill

Lawmakers in two Rhode Island legislative committees advanced the state’s cannabis legalization bill yesterday, setting the bill up for votes in both the House and Senate.

Full story after the jump.

Two Rhode Island legislative committees on Wednesday advanced the Rhode Island Cannabis Act, setting the bill up for votes in both the House and Senate next week, WJAR reports. The measure passed the Senate Judiciary Committee 9-1 and the House Finance Committee 12-2.

Democratic Gov. Dan McKee told WJAR that he is “willing to sign the piece of legislation” the way he understands “it’s going to be delivered.” The proposal approved by the committees was amended to include automatic expungement for any prior civil violation, misdemeanor, or felony conviction for possession of cannabis decriminalized under the bill.

State Sen. Joshua Miller (D), the sponsor of the legislation and chairman of the Health and Human Services Committee, said in a press release that he was proud that advocates, businesses, patients, legislative leaders, and the governor’s office “worked very cooperatively to smooth out the bumps and create a proposal that works for all the stakeholders.”

“We all wanted to do this in a way that is safe, keeps revenue in Rhode Island, and is as fair and equitable as we can possibly make it. The amended bill is a collaborative effort to address concerns about protecting medical use, ensuring fair governance and recognizing that we cannot make this transition without taking action to make whole the communities and individuals who have been punished for decades under prohibition.” – Miller in a statement

The legislation would allow Rhode Island adults aged 21-and-older to sell and possess up to one ounce of cannabis, keep up to 10 ounces in their home, and cultivate up to six cannabis plants at home (including three mature and three immature plants).

Under the measure, the state would license 33 retailers across six zones and impose a 10% excise tax, along with the state’s 7% sales tax, and a 3% tax which would go to municipalities. Licensing would begin on August 1 with sales commencing on December 1.

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