Rhode Island State Senator Joshua Miller and State Representative Scott Slater will be introducing legislation to regulate and tax marijuana in the General Assembly this year. The legislation is similar to that approved by Massachusetts voter in November.
Speaking at a press conference attended by members of the Regulate Rhode Island Coalition and State Representatives Moira Walsh and Aaron Regunberg, Miller said, “We have a responsible, fine-tuned bill, and we should pass it this year. This year’s bill addresses the issues that have been raised by the governor and stakeholders, and it is streamlined to work effectively with the regulatory structure in place for medical marijuana.”
The “Cannibas Regulation, Control and Taxation Act” would allow adults 21 and older to possess up to one ounce of marijuana and grow one mature plant in an enclosed, locked space. It would establish the Office of Cannabis Coordination within the executive branch, which would be charged with coordinating among state agencies to establish a tightly regulated system of licenses marijuana retail stores, cultivation faclities, processing facilities and testing facilities. The legislation would also create a 23 percent excise tax on retail marijuana sales in addition to the standard 7 percent sales tax.
“Eight states have passed laws to regulate and tax cannabis for adult use,” Slater said, “We have have had several years to see how regulation works in Colorado and Washington, and we have learned important lessons from their experience. This legislation represents a sensible policy reform that has been shown to work successfully in other states.”
One thing not mentioned this year by advocates was the so-called “first mover advantage.” In the past, advocates had made the argument that the first New England state to enact a tax and regulate marijuana policy would reap millions of additional dollars in revenues and economic growth from visitors from neighboring states eager to avail themselves of legal marijuana. Now that Massachusetts has voted to tax and regulate that economic advantage is gone along with all that potential extra revenue and tax dollars.
You can watch the full press conference below: