Legislation To Legalize And Tax Marijuana In RI

ri state house At a press conference last week State Rep. Edith H. Ajello (D-Providence) and State Senator Joshua Miller (D-Cranston) officially announced that they are once again sponsoring a bill to regulate and tax the sale of marijuana — effectively legalizing it for adult recreational use as in Washington and Colorado. (I also spoke at this press conference as a member of LEAP.) These two enlightened and pragmatic lawmakers have articulated their position in today’s Providence Journal; this would be an excellent piece to share with a friend or relative who is still on the fence.

Ajello and Miller show how marijuana prohibition has failed and how the state would benefit from legalization. They adroitly dismantle one tired opposition argument — the discredited “gateway drug” concept.

Those who support our current prohibition laws often claim marijuana is a “gateway drug” that will often lead to the use of other drugs, but studies suggest otherwise. According to a 1999 study commissioned by the White House and performed by the Institute of Medicine, marijuana “does not appear to be a gateway drug to the extent that it is the cause or even that it is the most significant predictor of serious drug abuse.”

Marijuana’s illegal status creates the gateway. By forcing marijuana consumers into the underground market, we dramatically increase the possibility that they will be exposed to more dangerous substances.

By last Wednesday’s press conference, Rep. Ajello had already collected 27 signatures in support of the bill from fellow representatives. Now is the time for you to contact your state representatives and state senators and let them know that you vote, and that you support this legislation. And make it your mission to change the mind of at least one acquaintance or relative.

As reported by the Marijuana Policy Project polling shows that a majority of Rhode Islanders already support legalization:

Of those 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. This idea also received bipartisan support and was backed by 55% of Democrats and 54% of Republicans.

It’s going to happen. Let’s be one of the first states on this, not one of the last. (More info at Regulate Rhode Island.)

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