Rhode Island Lawmakers Approve Cannabis Legalization

Rhode Island lawmakers passed the state’s adult-use cannabis legalization bill on Tuesday. The bill includes provisions for homegrows and the automatic expungement of prior cannabis possession charges.

Full story after the jump.

The Rhode Island Legislature on Tuesday voted to legalize cannabis for adult use, moving it to Gov. Dan McKee (D) who is expected to sign the bill today, the Providence Journal reports. The measure passed the House 55-16 and the Senate 32-6.

Senate Majority Leader Michael McCaffrey (D) called the bill’s passage “a truly momentous day for Rhode Island.”

“Ending cannabis prohibition helps us right past wrongs while creating new opportunities for all Rhode Islanders. This is the right move, at the right time, for our state.” – McCaffrey via the Journal

Under the bill, adults 21-and-older can purchase and possess up to an ounce of cannabis and keep 10 ounces at home for personal use. Adults can also cultivate up to six plants at home, including three mature and three immature plants. 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.

The legislation also includes automatic expungement provisions, giving the courts until July 1, 2024, to provide relief to all that are eligible. Any prior civil violation, misdemeanor, or felony conviction for cannabis possession that is now legal under the law would be automatically erased from court record systems under the criminal justice reforms.

Once signed by McKee, legal cannabis sales could commence by December 1 and it is likely the state’s current medical cannabis businesses would be the state’s first retailers. If the bill is given final approval by the governor, Rhode Island will become the 19th state to allow adult cannabis use and regulated cannabis sales.

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