To prevent surrounding legal marijuana states from creating chaos in Rhode Island, Governor Gina Raimondo wants to legalize it for recreational use. It is part of her 2019 budget proposal, which calls for the allotment of millions of dollars to get this new business sector up and running.
Although the budget projects this money will be recouped through sales and excise taxes, some government officials, while understanding of the governor’s position, are still a bit squeamish about her approach.
“As our neighboring states move forward with legal marijuana, the Governor is mindful of its impact on Rhode Island, from law enforcement to public health,” Raimondo’s press secretary Josh Block said in a statement.
The governor’s latest budget, which would take hold in early July, is not a free-for-all of marijuana like we’ve seen in other states. Instead, the proposal would ban home grows and cannabis products with higher potency. Most states have established a single dose as meaning 10 milligrams of THC, but those products in Rhodes Island could contain no more than 5 milligrams.
Still, adults 21 and over would have the freedom to walk down to their friendly neighborhood cannabis store and purchase a variety of weed products in a manner similar to beer. It’s a concept that has been discussed in the state for some time, yet it never managed to find a way on the books.
In spite of the governor’s desire to end prohibition, high-ranking lawmakers are not completely on board because the plan was not conceptualized and negotiated through the legislative process.
Rhode Island House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello said that while he appreciates “the Governor’s viewpoints,” he still has “mixed feelings” about legalization. Nevertheless, he says the House will examine the proposal and try to find “a consensus pathway forward.”
Senate President Dominick J. Ruggerio wants to keep an “open mind” about the legalization of marijuana, but he has “significant concerns, particularly with regard to workforce issues, enforcement around edibles, and impact on children.”
But this apprehension toward full-blown legalization doesn’t stop at the legislative chambers. Rhode Island Attorney General Peter Neronha says he is concerned the proposal doesn’t cover all the bases regarding public health and safety. He plans to dig into the proposal carefully to ensure it doesn’t create chaos of its own.
“I think I understand where the governor is coming from,” Neronha told the Providence Journal. “I have some concerns with how it is implemented.
But differences aside, all three said they would be willing to meet governor Raimondo in the middle. More details surrounding the marijuana legalization plan are expected to be released later this week.
Rhode Island stands to generate more than $14 million in gross revenue from legal weed, according to a report from the Providence Journal.