On Wednesday, the nation’s smallest state took a big step towards recreational legalization when legislators introduced the Marijuana Regulation, Control and Taxation Act that would permit possession of up to one ounce by all adults 21 and older.
Introduced by state Senator Joshua Miller (D) and state Representative Edith Ajello (D), the bill also allows personal cultivation of up to two plants in a locked space and authorizes wholesale transactions subject to an excise tax of up to $50 per ounce as well as a ten percent levy on retail sales.
Rhode Island legalized medical marijuana in 2006. Thus far, only Colorado and Washington State have legalized recreational pot. Those two states served as the inspiration for the Rhode Island bill. Lawmakers are particularly motivated by Colorado’s projected tax revenue from legal weed – nearly $70 million in 2014.
If passed, the bill would allow a maximum of ten cannabis distributors throughout the state. Forty percent of all pot tax proceeds would be diverted to drug treatment programs.
According to Rep Ajello, “Rhode Island faces a pretty serious deficit. The sooner we pass this legislation, the sooner we can start to realize the necessary tax revenue off these sales.”
In an official statement, Senator Miller remarked, “Marijuana prohibition has been a long-term failure. Forcing marijuana into the underground market ensures authorities have no control of the product. Regulating marijuana would allow the product to be sold safely and responsibly by legitimate businesses in appropriate locations.”