Representative Scott Slater introduced a bill (H5777) in the RI House of Representatives yesterday to tax and regulate marijuana. Senator Josh Miller introduced identical legislation in the RI Senate. Speaking at a press conference yesterday, both legislators were optimistic that this might be the year the legislation passes.
Though a pair of cranks attempted to hijack the press conference by insisting that the speakers use the word “cannabis” instead of “marijuana,” Jared Moffat, executive director of Regulate Rhode Island, a coalition of groups in support of marijuana regulation, showed remarkable poise and kept the presentation on track.
Representative Slater said that Colorado, the first state to tax and regulate marijuana, “has one of the fastest going economies in the country.” Money spent on legal marijuana products is money denied to organized crime, says Slater, who asked, “Do we allow criminals to control the market? Or do we want the sales to be regulated and taxed?”
- Mattiello open minded on marijuana reform
- Paiva Weed still skeptical on regulating marijuana
- Rhode Island has the most per capita marijuana users
- Legalizing marijuana enjoys ‘tripartisan’ support
- Legalizing marijuana could mean $82 million in revenue for RI
Senator Miller cited justice, public safety and revenue issues as reasons for a growth in support for the idea. Many more groups have joined the call for regulation, and the governor, the Senate president and the speaker of the House have all said that they are open to considering such an idea.
Dan Harrop, the recent Republican candidate for mayor of Providence, was to speak at the press conference, but an auto accident, in which Harrop was unharmed, prevented his attendance. Instead Dr. James Crowley spoke about the current laws regarding marijuana prohibition as being “fundamentally wrong, and a tremendous waste of resources.”
Crowley also spoke of the “first mover advantage.” The first state in New England to tax and regulate marijuana, Crowley maintains, will have early and sustainable marketing advantages that should last even as other states follow suit. Massachusetts activists have already managed to get legislation onto the ballot, and Rhode Island has “a small window of opportunity” if we want to be first, and reap the financial rewards.
Senator Miller says that a majority of Rhode Islanders are in favor of taxing and regulating marijuana, saying, “I think this is the year to do that.”