It speaks volumes that several members of the General Assembly feel comfortable re-introducing a Marijuana Decriminalization bill even though it’s an election year. Perhaps politicians are finally figuring out that not only is there no political price to be paid for taking this position, but just the opposite may be true.
We reported last month on the recent Rhode Island poll showing 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. That means members of the General Assembly will be enhancing their chances of re-election by supporting this bill.
Big thanks to representatives John G. Edwards (D- Portsmouth, Tiverton), Frank Ferri (D-Warwick), House Minority Leader Brian C. Newberry (R- North Smithfield, Burrillville), Anastasia P. Williamson (D-Providence), and Peter G. Palumbo (D-Cranston) who introduced H-7092 on January 11; it has been referred to the House Judiciary Committee with a hearing scheduled for Wednesday, March 28.
This issue now brings together people from both sides of the aisle: small-government Republicans, progressive Democrats, and Libertarians of either stripe. A Gallup poll last October showed 50% of Americans support legalizing marijuana; most recently Pat Robertson came out in favor of complete legalization as well.