By ALEX MALM
Sen. Joshua Miller and state Rep. Scott Slater introduced amendments to legislation that would legalize regulation marijuana; the Senate Judiciary Committee and House Finance …
By ALEX MALM
Sen. Joshua Miller and state Rep. Scott Slater introduced amendments to legislation that would legalize regulation marijuana; the Senate Judiciary Committee and House Finance Committee will vote on this next Tuesday.
One of the major changes is that previous convictions for cannabis possession will automatically be expunged; it would also push the start date of legalized adult recreational sales from Oct. 1 to Dec.1 and would also eliminate the current fees charged to patients and caregivers for registration in the state’s medical marijuana program.
“I’m proud that everyone involved — the advocates, the existing industry, patients, legislative leaders and the governor’s office — worked very cooperatively to smooth out the bumps and create a proposal that works for all the stakeholders,” said Miller. “We all wanted to do this in a way that is safe, keeps revenue in Rhode Island and is as fair and equitable as we can possibly make it. The amended bill is a collaborative effort to address concerns about protecting medical use, ensuring fair governance and recognizing that we cannot make this transition without taking action to make whole the communities and individuals who have been punished for decades under prohibition.”
The legislation would still make it legal for only those 21 and over and will limit the sale and possession of up to 1 ounce of cannabis. No more than 10 ounces would be allowed to be kept in a primary residence for personal use. It would also allow Rhode Islanders to grow a small amount of their own cannabis at home.
No changes to the proposed 10 percent state cannabis excise tax are part of the amended bill that will be in addition to the 7 percent sales tax, plus a 3 percent local tax for the municipality where the sale takes place.
No changes were made to the bill that allows 33 cannabis retailers in Rhode Island distributed in six zones statewide including the nine compassion centers that could become hybrid medical/recreational retailers.
Under the original legislation, it would allow municipalities to opt out of allowing marijuana sales in their community via a referendum. The amendment clarifies that cities and towns which currently have existing licensed cultivators or testing labs will be allowed to opt out, although those facilities will be grandfathered in.
The amendment to the legislation also adds in place a procedure for a community that opted out originally to revisit the topic in later years. It will also allow municipalities to ban cannabis use in public places via a local ordinance.
It was noted that the amended bill wouldn’t change measures included in the original bill that addresses “social equity to reduce barriers to participation for those communities that have long been disproportionately affected by cannabis prohibition,” a press release reads. “Their proposal uses licensing fees and penalties to fund technical assistance and grants to applicants and communities that have been impacted, and reserves one license in each of the six districts for a social equity licensee and another in each district for a co-op.”
“Social equity has been a top concern for us throughout this whole process,” said Slater. “Senator Miller and I represent some of the communities that have suffered disproportionate harm from prohibition for decades, resulting in generational poverty and mass incarceration. The starting line isn’t the same for people in poor, urban and minority communities, and they deserve support to ensure they get the full benefit of participating in legalization.”
Both chambers are expected to vote on the bill next Tuesday.