Rhode Island Lawmakers Debate How—Not Whether—To Legalize Marijuana At Hearing On Governor’s Plan

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A House panel in Rhode Island considered an adult-use marijuana legalization proposal from Gov. Daniel McKee (D) on Thursday along with three separate bills that would make significant reforms to the state’s current medical cannabis system. While lawmakers did not act on any of the proposals, they asked detailed questions of the governor’s administration about how—not whether—to eventually legalize cannabis in the state. Legislative leaders have repeatedly said that ending marijuana prohibition is “inevitable” in Rhode Island, but they’ve acknowledged that hammering out policies that can win broad backing might take some time. Reaching agreement on certain provisions, some lawmakers said this week, could prevent the policy change from happening this year, although others remain optimistic. The chair of the House Finance Committee, Rep. Marvin L. Abney (D), stressed at the hearing that holding bills is routine and happens “if there’s work that needs to be done on the bill, which generally there is on almost all” pieces of legislation. “That is why we hold a bill for further study. We don’t hold it to kill it or anything like that,” he said. The governor’s legalization plan, unveiled in March as part of his budget proposal, is one of two competing measures already introduced that would allow commercial cannabis sales to adults 21 and older. Senate leaders introduced their own legalization bill days before the governor’s announcement, but that measure wasn’t before the House panel this week. On the Senate side, both measures were heard in a joint committee hearing in early April but were not voted on, and they’ve remained in a holding pattern since. One of the most obvious differences between the two proposals, said Matt Santacroce, who heads the state Department of Business Regulation (DBR)’s Office of Cannabis Regulation, is how the new industry would be overseen.…

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Source : Rhode Island Lawmakers Debate How—Not Whether—To Legalize Marijuana At Hearing On Governor’s Plan

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