Rhode Island Senate Votes to Legalize Cannabis, House Vote Expected in Special Session

The Rhode Island Senate on Tuesday voted to legalize cannabis in the state, advancing the legislation to the state House of Representatives.

Full story after the jump.

The Rhode Island Senate on Tuesday voted 29-9 to legalize cannabis in the state, moving the legislation on to the state House of Representatives, WPRI reports. The bill includes a 20% tax on adult-use cannabis sales and allows for home cultivation.

It marks the first time either chamber of the Rhode Island Senate voted on a broad cannabis legalization proposal.

House Speaker Joe Shekarchi (D) has already indicated that the body will not consider a cannabis legalization bill before the current session ends, but it could consider it in a special session in the fall, according to the report.

The bill did not include provisions submitted by Gov. Dan McKee, including removing language creating an independent Cannabis Control Commission. McKee called the creation of the commission “the main thing” he and lawmakers disagree on citing his opposition to “adding additional costs to government.” McKee proposed tasking the Department of Business Regulation’s Office of Cannabis Regulation overseeing the industry.

McKee took over as governor in March after his predecessor, Gina Raimondo, was confirmed as commerce secretary in President Joe Biden’s Administration. McKee had served as Raimondo’s lieutenant governor. In January, McKee said he thought it was time legalization happened in the state after opposing the reforms as recently as 2019.

Rhode Island and New Hampshire are the last two New England states that have not passed adult-use cannabis law reforms. On Tuesday Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont (D) signed the lawmaker-approved bill, portions of whichincluding adult-use and possessiontake effect July 1.

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