Rhode Island House Panel Discusses Competing Marijuana Legalization Proposals From Lawmakers And Governor

Rhode Island House Panel Discusses Competing Marijuana Legalization Proposals From Lawmakers And Governor
MJ moment

A Rhode Island House committee on Tuesday discussed a bill to legalize marijuana in the state, as well as the governor’s separate budget proposal that includes provisions to end cannabis criminalization and create a regulated market. The hearing on the pieces of legislation from Rep. Scott Slater (D) and Gov. Dan McKee took place in the House Finance Committee, one week after a separate Senate panel took testimony on an identical companion version of the Slater bill that’s being sponsored by Sen. Joshua Miller (D). The lawmaker-driven bill was introduced earlier this month following months of negotiations between legislative leaders. McKee released his budget proposal with the legalization components in January. “I’ve been supporting legalization of cannabis for a number of years,” Slater told fellow lawmakers at Tuesday’s hearing. “I just think it’s the best public policy” and is “long overdue.” Referring to Rhode Island’s neighboring states that have already enacted legalization, he called Rhode Island “kind of an island of prohibition, surrounded by legal cannabis around us.” “We’re already dealing with it,” he said. “We might as well take the revenue in” by legalizing sales. Meanwhile, advocates who testified continued to raise concerns about what they view as insufficient equity provisions included in the legislation, specifically taking issue with a component requiring those with past cannabis convictions to proactively petition for relief, rather than have the process automated by the state. Miller, who sponsored an earlier legalization proposal that was approved in the Senate last year, told fellow lawmakers at the Senate committee hearing last week that “we’ve made our best attempt” to get the provisions right, stressing that he is broadly open to feedback on and changes to the bill as it moves through the legislative process. — Marijuana Moment is already tracking more than 1,000 cannabis, psychedelics and…

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