A new idea has bubbled up in the general assembly regarding marijuana legalization, and that is the possibility of passing a non-binding resolution instead of holding a vote on the Marijuana Regulation, Control, and Taxation Act currently being introduced to the House and the Senate. Jared Moffat, director of Regulate Rhode Island, wants us to consider what is at stake with this pointless delay.
It is certainly encouraging to see top lawmakers talking more and more about the possibility of ending marijuana prohibition in Rhode Island. However, putting a non-binding resolution on the November ballot — as some have suggested — would only delay the inevitable and urgent work the legislature must do to establish a more rational policy.
Moffat appeared recently on an episode of Newsmakers on Channel 12 with Tim White and Dan McGowan and discussed why kicking the can down the road for another year is a particularly bad idea. The Boston Globe cites a study that found that if Massachusetts voters approve an expected ballot measure this fall on legalizing adult recreational use of marijuana, “the state could become home to a $1.1 billion cannabis industry by 2020 . . .”
Moffat emphasized the urgency of getting Rhode Island out in front and capitalizing on the economic advantage of being the first in the area. If we delay this for even one year, entrepreneurs, investors, and customers will head right over to the Bay State. We will lose out on the money spent and taxes collected, and for what? We already know how the people of Rhode Island feel about this issue.
Numerous polls in recent years show that a strong majority of Rhode Islanders support regulating marijuana similarly to alcohol, with the latest finding 57% in favor and only 35% opposed. Go to MPP. There’s no reason to delay passage of the Marijuana Regulation, Control, and Taxation Act any longer.
As to the social justice issues involved in ending marijuana prohibition, we now know that Nixon aide and Watergate co-conspirator John Ehrlichman shared this despicable tidbit with journalist Dan Baum,
“The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people. You understand what I’m saying? We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.”
Ask your legislators to hold a vote on the Marijuana Regulation, Control, and Taxation Act.