Rhode Island Lawmakers Nearing Deal on Cannabis Legalization

The executive branch and legislative negotiators in Rhode Island are close to reaching a deal on regulating adult cannabis use, but additional discussions are needed for agreement on issues including taxes.

Full story after the jump.

The executive branch and legislative negotiators in Rhode Island are close to reaching a deal on regulating adult cannabis use, but some sticking points remain, according to a WPRI report. At a “Media and Politics Cafe” on the campus of Johnson & Wales, Sen. Josh Miller, a leading sponsor of an adult-use bill passed by the Senate in June, revealed the 150 retail locations initially proposed had been trimmed down significantly.

“We’re probably down to more in the 30, 40 range,” Miller said, admitting he had to “dodge and weave” around reporters’ questions due to the ongoing negotiations.

Miller did mention a social equity component would be included in any licensing agreement. Additionally, all sides have agreed to include expungement provisions in any proposed legislation. Lastly, the negotiators have agreed to put a temporary moratorium on new cultivation sites, bowing to pressure from producers, who say they already do not have enough legal retail locations to sell their crops, the report says.

“As you know the governor supports recreational cannabis and his team has been actively working with our partners in the General Assembly on a bill that is equitable and benefits Rhode Island,” said Gov. Dan McKee’s press secretary, Alana O’Hare, in an email to WPRI.  “The conversations are ongoing, and we are hopeful that an agreement can be reached.”

Miller says the two sides are mostly split on who will oversee adult-use cannabis licensing and regulation. Miller’s bill calls for the formation of an entirely new regulatory body, while another proposal puts the program in the hands of the Department of Business. McKee, House, and Senate representatives have all put forward different retail shop numbers throughout the negotiations. Taxation numbers hover around 20%, but some work remains to decide how tax dollars are split between localities and the state. Finally, after their efforts failed in the regular session, leaders hinted at a possible special session in the Fall, although this is unlikely, but not off the table, the report says.

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