Testimony will be heard today by the House Judiciary Committee concerning Marijuana Legalization Bill 7506. In addition to the compelling social justice issues, proponents will have a strong economic argument to make to Rhode Island legislators this year, supported by the early news out of Colorado and a recent report from OpenDoors, a nonprofit that serves formerly incarcerated individuals and their families.
Nick Horton, the policy specialist at OpenDoors who wrote the report, suggests that legalization and regulation of marijuana in Rhode Island could generate from $21.5 million to $82 million in annual tax revenues. Zachary Malinowski at The Providence Journal asked Pat Oglesby, former chief tax counsel for the U.S. Senate Finance Committee and founder of the Center for New Tax Revenue for an assessment (“Report: Legalizing marijuana would reap millions of dollars for RI”). He predicts,
. . . that Rhode Island’s plans to legalize and regulate marijuana “would be a significant improvement” over the tax structures in Colorado and Washington. Those are the first two states to legalize the drug and the tax rate is based on the price of the cannabis.
“The Rhode Island Bill’s per-ounce tax base is more stable and harder to manipulate,” Oglesby said. “It’s a better tax plan.”