Providence, Rhode Island

Timothy Burling

Lawmakers in Rhode Island say they will look seriously at cannabis legalization in the coming term, due to reforms in surrounding states and the reelection of a governor who favors cannabis reforms, according to the Providence Journal.

Rhode Island lawmakers return in January for the start of a new legislative session with a host of new representatives. Returning state Rep. Scott Slater, who has previously sponsored several failed cannabis legalization bills, says he is optimistic for 2019.

“With the reality of it being all around us, I think folks have to look at it a little harder now. Even if you’re against recreational cannabis and you feel there are social costs to it, you’re going to be dealing with those issues within your own borders, regardless, and without any of the revenue you could be raising. You might as well regulate it and tax it and put some of that money toward prevention.” –Scott Slater (D-Providence), to the Providence Journal

Slater said to combat negative pressure from many anti-legalization groups, his upcoming proposal will give local communities an opt-out and other abilities to limit the cannabis industry. Slater also said the state’s medical cannabis program has implemented new seed-to-sale tracking that could easily be implemented into an adult-use program.

Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo has said she is open to legalization in Rhode Island as long as safeguards are in place to prevent child consumption.

“Regardless of what the General Assembly does, Rhode Island adults will be buying legal marijuana from Massachusetts stores … very soon,” said Matthew Schweich, deputy director of the Marijuana Policy Project, in an interview with the Providence Journal.

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