Late last month, the Marijuana Policy Project commissioned Public Policy Polling to survey Rhode Island voter attitudes toward marijuana policy. The results are in, and the numbers indicate that Rhode Islanders from both sides of the aisle are ready for change with an overwhelming 65% supporting a decrease in the penalties for simple possession of less than an ounce of marijuana by removing the possibility of jail time and making the offense a civil citation. Robert Capecchi of MPP breaks it down in “Support for marijuana policy reform in Rhode Island: More popular than the politicians think.”
Of the 714 voters polled, 52% would like to see all penalties for personal possession and use of marijuana removed and marijuana treated in a manner similar to alcohol, where it would be taxed, regulated, and sold in state-licensed stores to adults over the age of 21. Perhaps somewhat surprisingly, the idea received bipartisan support and was backed by 55% of Democrats and 54% of Republicans. Legislation spearheaded by MPP to establish such a system will be introduced in Rhode Island this session.
Once again Rep. John G. Edwards (D-Tiverton) and Sen. Joshua Miller (D-Cranston) are sponsoring legislation in the General Assembly that would make possession of an ounce or less of marijuana a civil offense subject to at least a $150 fine, rather than the maximum $500 fine and a year in jail imposed under current law.
Big thanks to these legislators for going through all this all over again. These proposals never made it out of committee last year, with the weak-willed Speaker of the House Gordon D. Fox saying “It just wasn’t time.” Who is this man talking to? Who wants to spend tax dollars incarcerating marijuana users? Decriminalization has been working just fine in Connecticut and Massachusetts with no detectable dire consequences.
Tell your representatives that you want this passed now. And tell Gordon Fox “It’s time!” (Fox can be reached at 401.222.2466)