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Rhode Island: Lawmakers Consider Marijuana-related Bills

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

The Rhode Island Senate Judiciary Committee continued discussions about various marijuana-related bills Tuesday.

Regulation, taxation, and law enforcement were among the pieces of legislation that were discussed.

State Sen. Joshua Miller, D-Cranston is pushing for legalization.

"You avoid criminal activity through legalization," Miller said.

Miller does acknowledge that many topics related to marijuana legalization need to be considered, including driving under the influence of marijuana.

"We feel right that right now, just straight legal limits do not reflect whether or not somebody has dangerous levels of THC in their system," said Dave Raposa of AAA Northeast. AAA just released the results of a study that says tests for marijuana-impaired drivers used in five states that allow some form of marijuana use have no scientific basis.

Bishop Thomas Tobin of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence quoted the Catholic catechism in a column for the Rhode Island Catholic newspaper. "The use of drugs inflicts very grave damage on human health and life. Their use, except on strictly therapeutic grounds, is a grave offense," he said.

Proponents disagree, saying it's not about the church. "I see a legal component to it," said Miller. "But I didn't explore a religious component to it."

Massachusetts: Lawmakers Plan To Ban Home Cultivation If Marijuana Legalized

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Massachusetts voters haven't even legalized marijuana yet, and already state lawmakers are planning how to gut important parts of the law, in case it passes.

A sharply worded Senate report released on Tuesday says that if voters legalize recreational cannabis in the state, lawmakers should promptly cancel their wishes by outlawing home cultivation, imposing high taxes, and prohibiting most edible products, reports Joshua Miller at The Boston Globe.

While the report from the Special Senate Committee on Marijuana claims not to take an official stance on the proposed ballot question to legalize, it repeatedly, and even shrilly, warns of legalization's supposed dangers. The authors claim that legalization could make it easier for children to access marijuana -- despite the fact that it would be limited to adults 21 and older, and black market drug dealers certainly aren't asking for ID currently.

The bipartisan 118-page propaganda piece, I mean "analysis," comes the same week Gov. Charlie Baker, Atty. Gen. Maura Healey, and Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh of Boston published a scathing op-ed in The Boston Globe opp=osing legalization, and the Massachusetts Legislature's judiciary committee heard testimony on the ballot measure.

Massachusetts: Lawmakers Push Forward To Legalize Marijuana

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Massachusetts legislators are working on a marijuana legalization proposal, partly to counteract an expected 2016 ballot initiative push.

Cannabis advocates have long planned an initiative petition drive to legalize the recreational use of marijuana for adults, and political analysts have expected the measure to pass in 2016, reports Joshua Miller at the Boston Globe.

But some lawmakers are reluctant to let activists write a legalization law through ballot initiative. The legislators would rather write the law themselves, and have final say on the details. That's why 13 bipartisan sponsors introduced House Bill 1561, which would legalize marijuana for adults and establish a system of taxed and regulated marijuana commerce, reports Phillip Smith at AlterNet.

"Wouldn't it be a good idea for the Legislature to look at it ahead of time, listen to every point of view, anticipate every problem that we would, and try to do it right?" said Senator Patricia D. Jehlen (D-Somerville), a lead sponsor of a bill to legalize, tax and regulate recreational cannabis.

"I think it's better, if we're going to do this, to do it in the Legislature than on the ballot," agreed Senate President Stanley C. Rosenberg, who claimed he doesn't have a strong opinion on legalization. Rosenberg isn't listed as a cosponsor, but later said, "I believe if the Legislature doesn't act on it, it will be done on the ballot."

Rhode Island: Lawmakers Introduce Legislation To Legalize, Regulate And Tax Marijuana Like Alcohol

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State Sen. Joshua Miller (D-Cranston) and State Rep. Scott Slater (D-Providence) on Thursday introduced legislation that would end marijuana prohibition in Rhode Island and replace it with a system in which marijuana is regulated and taxed similarly to alcohol.

They discussed the proposal at a news conference in the House Lounge of the State House, where they were joined by Dr. Daniel Harrop, M.D., vice chairman of the Rhode Island Center for Freedom and Prosperity, and Regulate Rhode Island Director Jared Moffat.

“It’s time to regulate and tax marijuana in Rhode Island and treat it similarly to how we treat alcohol,” said Sen. Miller, who is chairman of the Senate Committee on Health & Human Services. “Marijuana prohibition is an ineffective and wasteful policy, and we cannot afford to ignore it any longer. The Legislature is perfectly capable of creating a system that will work for Rhode Island.”

The Marijuana Regulation, Control, and Taxation Act would allow adults 21 and older to possess up to one ounce of marijuana and grow one mature marijuana plant in an enclosed, locked space. It would create a tightly regulated system of licensed marijuana retail stores, cultivation facilities, and testing facilities and direct the Department of Business Regulation to create rules regulating security, labeling, and health and safety requirements. It would also establish wholesale excise taxes at the point of transfer from the cultivation facility to a retail store, as well as a special sales tax on retail sales to consumers.

Rhode Island: Bill To Legalize, Tax and Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol To Get Hearing Tuesday

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Bill to Receive Hearing Tuesday in State Senate Committee on Judiciary

S 2379, the Marijuana Regulation, Control, and Taxation Act, would establish a legal market for licensed businesses to sell marijuana to adults 21 and older

The Rhode Island Senate Committee on Judiciary is scheduled to hold a Tuesday hearing on a bill that would legalize, regulate and tax marijuana similarly to alcohol. It will take place following the Rise of the Senate in Room 313 of the Rhode Island State House.

A bipartisan group of 13 sponsors, lead by Sen. Joshua Miller (D-Cranston), chairman of the Senate Committee on Health & Human Services, is supporting S 2379, the Marijuana Regulation, Control, and Taxation Act. The measure would allow adults 21 years of age and older to possess up to one ounce of marijuana and grow one mature marijuana plant in an enclosed, locked space.

It would create a tightly regulated system of licensed marijuana retail stores, cultivation facilities, and testing facilities and charge the Department of Business Regulation with creating rules regulating security, labeling, and health and safety requirements. It would establish wholesale excise taxes at the point of transfer from the cultivation facility to a retail store, as well as a special sales tax on retail sales to consumers.

The legislation could generate approximately $21 million to $82 million in annual revenue each year, according to a report released in April by OpenDoors.

Massachusetts: Advocates Lay Groundwork For Marijuana Legalization

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Marijuana advocates are laying the groundwork for legalization in Massachusetts in 2016, the next presidential election year.

State voters approved decriminalization of small amounts of cannabis in 2008, and legalized its use for medicinal purposes in 2012, both with more than 63 percent support, reports Joshua Miller at the Boston Globe. advocates have launched an effort to get legalization on the 2016 ballot, and to raise enough money to ensure victory.

But some say Massachusetts' strong traditions will make legal marijuana a tough sell.

"To make it available for recreational use, that's going over a very different barrier," said state Rep. Ellen Story (D-Amherst), explaining it was easy for her to support decrim and medical marijuana, but not legalization. "I'm not sure people in the state are ready for that and I'm certainly not sure I'm ready for that."

But the tides of public opinion are shifting on cannabis.

"Opinion is changing very quickly on marijuana," said Steve Koczela, president of MassINC Polling Group. The rapid change, he said, "mirrors, in some ways, the same-sex marriage shift that's taken place over the last few years."

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