Marijuana would be legal, and available at designated stores, if a bill being heard at the State House tonight were to become law.
“It would be a brave new world,” said Rep. Edith Ajello, a Providence Democrat who is sponsoring the legislation. “It would be taxed. There would be stores that sold marijuana, legally licensed by the state just as stores are licensed to sell alcohol.”
Ajello, it should be noted, doesn’t think that brave new world will come to fruition this session. Not only does she not think her bill would pass this year, she doesn’t think the federal government would allow the change.
But a related bill, which would decriminalize marijuana, might. This bill, she said, has healthy support in both chambers and is similar to the law in Massachusetts and Connecticut.
That decriminalize bill, sponsored by Rep. John Edwards, D- Tiverton, Portsmouth, would lessen the punishment for possession of less than an ounce of pot a ticket and a $150 fine. Oh yeah, and “forfeiture of the marijuana,” according to the bill that will also be heard tomorrow night.
Law enforcement is expected to oppose the legislation.
Maine, Massachusetts, Connecticut and New York have all decriminalized possession of small amounts of pot. In total, 13 states have such reduced penalties for possession.
Ajello said she expects marijuana will be legal in the near future once more people realize how harmless it is.
I do think it is where we will be,” she said. “Marijuana is not thought to be any more dangerous than alcohol and we have legalized and taxed alcohol. I think ultimately we can move through decriminalization to legalizing and taxing.”