Rhode Island

Rhode Island: Bill to Create Cannabis Commission Passes General Assembly


By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

Rhode Island Rep. Dennis Canario (D-Dist. 71) and Sen. Cynthia Coyne’s (D-Dist. 32) legislation (2017-H 5551A / 2017-S 277A) that would create a 19-member special legislative commission to study the effects of legalizing recreational marijuana in Rhode Island recently passed the General Assembly.

Rhode Island: Senate Approves Cannabis Study Commission

Rhode Island Cannabis Commission

By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

On June 22, the Rhode Island Senate approved legislation sponsored by Senator Cynthia Coyne (D) to create a 19-member joint legislative commission to study the effects of legalizing recreational cannabis in Washington and Colorado. The bill, 2017-S 0277A, moves to the House, which has already approved identical legislation sponsored by Rep. Dennis M. Canario (D).

The partisan legislation, cosponsored by Sen. James A. Seveney (D), Sen. Harold M. Metts (D), Sen. Louis P. DiPalma (D) and Sen. V. Susan Sosnowski (D), seeks to educate legislators on pragmatic cannabis policy.

Rhode Island: Legislative Allies Propose Incremental Cannabis Legalization

Rhode Island Cannabis

Sen. Joshua Miller and Rep. Scott Slater announce a proposal to legalize possession of small amounts of cannabis on July 1, 2018, and establish an advisory board to provide recommendations to the General Assembly on regulating sales and cultivation

By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

The compromise legislation would legalize possession of an ounce or less for adults 21 and older on July 1, 2018 and establish a six-person advisory board comprised of two state officials selected by the governor, two state senators, and two state representatives to study outcomes of legalization in other states.

Rhode Island: Judge Rules Company Discriminated Against Medical Cannabis Patient


By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

On Tuesday, Rhode Island Superior Court Judge Richard Licht ruled against Darlington Fabrics, a Rhode Island textile company accused of discriminating against a woman when she was denied an internship because she used medical marijuana. The initial complaint said Christine Callaghan, a former graduate student at the University of Rhode Island, negotiated a paid internship with Darlington Fabrics in 2014 but lost it after disclosing she held a medical marijuana card for migraine headaches.

Rhode Island: Legalizing And Regulating Marijuana Would Yield Nearly $50 Million In New Tax Revenue


By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

According to a report issued this week by the advocacy coalition Regulate Rhode Island, legalizing, regulating, and taxing the state's marijuana market would result in the generation of nearly $50 million in new annual tax revenue.

Commercial sales of cannabis are estimated to reach $161 million by 2020, according to the report. Taxing this retail market at rates comparable to those in Colorado or Washington would yield $48.3 million per year.

The Adult Use of Cannabis act is legislation pending in the Rhode Island House and Senate to regulate the commercial production and sale of marijuana to adults. Connecticut has similar legislation pending.

Similar legislation was approved by voters in Massachusetts in November.

Connecticut: Marijuana Legalization Hearing Draws Conflicting Testimony


By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

A hearing on legalizing marijuana for adults in Connecticut Wednesday produced plenty of conflicting testimony about risks and benefits associated with the plant. Topics of concern ranged from health concerns to the state's need for tax revenue.

Very different attitudes toward recreational marijuana were expressed by members of the General Assembly's judiciary committee. Some lawmakers opposed cannabis legalization, while some strongly supported it.

Supporters of marijuana legalization argued that the plant is less addictive than alcohol or nicotine, and that millions of dollars of illegal cannabis is currently being sold in Connecticut every year. Marijuana legalization "would take control of the marijuana market out of the hands of drug dealers," said Joseph LaChance, a medical marijuana patient from Milford.

Martin M. Looney, the Senate's top Democratic leader, testified that prohibiting marijuana use in Connecticut has been as ineffective as alcohol Prohibition was in the 1920s and 1930s.

Looney and others argued that the tax revenue generated by legal marijuana sales could help solve Connecticut's fiscal crisis. Currently, medical marijuana can be sold to patients with a few certain qualifying conditions in Connecticut, but the sales are not taxed.

Rhode Island: Growing Hemp Becomes Legal


By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

A new law takes effect Sunday that will allow people in Rhode Island to obtain a license to grow hemp for oil, clothing, fiber, food, and other commercial products.

Lawmakers proposed the bill initially to allow members of the Narragansett Indian Tribe to cultivate hemp, but the language was expanded to include any licensed grower.

Gov. Gina Raimondo signed the legislation into law in July. It also allows universities to grow hemp for research and educational purposes.

Industrial hemp is a cousin of marijuana that contains a lower concentration of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

Although the United States imports about half a billion dollars of hemp annually from other countries, mainly Canada and China, the plant remains illegal for most of its own farmers to grow.

Minnesota: PTSD Added to List of Qualifying Conditions For Medical Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

The Minnesota Department of Health is adding post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to its list of conditions that can qualify patients for medical marijuana.

Minnesota now joins New Jersey, Michigan, California, Illinois, Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, New Mexico, Arizona, Washington, Rhode Island and Oregon as states that allow those with PTSD to legally use medical cannabis.

A large amount of research has led to the conclusion that medical marijuana can be useful for "innovative intervention strategies (e.g. pharmacological enhancement of exposure-based therapy) in PTSD and other fear learning-related disorders,” according to a government-funded study released in 2014.

Another study released in 2015 found that; “When inhaled or delivered orally or transdermally, cannabinoids (the psychoactive components of unrefined marijuana and various derivative products) activate endogenous cannabinoid receptors, modulating neurotransmitter release and producing a wide range of central nervous system effects, including increased pleasure and alteration of memory processes…. Those effects provide a pharmacologic rationale for the use of cannabinoids to manage the three core PTSD symptom clusters: reexperiencing, avoidance and numbing, and hyperarousal.”

U.S.: 4 States Most Likely To Legalize Recreational Marijuana Next

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Legalized recreational marijuana has been a big news headline ever since the Election Day, when the number of states with legal pot going from 4 to 8. Several other states are getting closer to seeing legal recreational pot legalized, with some being closer than others.

In Arizona, Proposition 205 was defeated by a margin of just 2 percent. Cannabis advocacy groups encouraged by the close defeat will focus their attention on remaining hesitant voters. They expect to see legal recreational weed passed very soon. California just passed Prop 64, but similar measures in 2010, 2012, and 2014 were defeated. Oregon voted “No” on legal cannabis in 2012, then “Yes” in 2014.

Recreational marijuana becomes officially legal in Massachusetts on December 15, 2016, allowing adults to possess as much cannabis as they can grow. Otherwise, individuals can have up to 1 ounce, including 5 grams of concentrate. Neighboring states Rhode Island and Vermont are likely to follow suit, since citizens of those states could easily cross the border to take advantage of legal pot in Massachusetts. Both states are interested in the tax revenue the legal cannabis industry generates.

Rhode Island: State May Follow Massachusetts And Legalize Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimonda said Tuesday that she's planning to take a serious look at moving to legalize marijuana for adults in the state following the passing of Massachusetts' pot legalization measure.

Democratic House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello also expressed interest in moving to legalize the plant, saying he’s ready to take up legislation next year because marijuana will become readily available to Rhode Islanders traveling across the Massachusetts border.

Democratic Senate Majority Leader Dominick Ruggerio has also announced plans to pursue pot legalization for adults in Rhode Island.

Although recreational marijuana becomes legal in Massachusetts on December 15, retail sales won’t begin until at least 2018.

Rhode Island: Governor Watching Massachusetts Marijuana Ballot

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

The governor of Rhode Island says she's positioning her state to be ready for the possible legalization of recreational marijuana by improving state oversight of medical marijuana.

Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo told the Providence Journal the state will have to look harder and faster at recreational pot legalization if Massachusetts voters approve it across the border in next week's election.

If Question 4 on the Massachusetts ballot passes, it would allow retail pot shops to open after January 2018, giving some time for Rhode Island to catch up.

Raimondo says medical marijuana reforms she signed into law this year improve oversight of a flawed system. She says they also create a regulatory framework so the state is prepared if recreational pot is legalized.

She says she remains concerned about keeping kids safe.

U.S.: Leaked Documents Expose Why The FDA Says Marijuana Is Not Medicine

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

New uncovered documents give an insider's look at why the federal government does not recognize marijuana as medicine despite the reality that 25 states have legalized the plant for medical use so far. The 118-page document contains memos between the DEA's chief, two FDA officials, the governors of Rhode Island and Washington and several other government officials.

According to the documents, one of the reasons the FDA came to their decision is because “Individuals are taking the substance on their own initiative rather than on the basis of the medical advice from a practitioner licensed by law to administer such substances,” officials wrote in a summary.

The Drug Enforcement Administration rejected two petitions to reschedule marijuana last August. The DEA ruled that the marijuana that millions of Americans rely on in 25 states has “no currently accepted medical use.”

Rhode Island: Bill May Allow Narragansett Indians To Grow Hemp

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

The Narragansett Indian tribe will be able to grow hemp in Rhode Island if a proposed bill passes in the state's General Assembly.

The legislation was introduced last Thursday by Rep. Helio Melos, an East providence Democrat.

The bill says the tribe used hemp products in the past for clothing and housing and wants to use it again as a business opportunity. The bill will also allow universities to grow hemp for research or educational purposes.

Importing hemp from abroad is legal in the U.S., but federal law only allows hemp cultivation as a research project by states and universities.

Industrial hemp is a cousin to marijuana but has a very low concentration of tetrahydrocannibinol (THC), the plant's component that causes a "high."

Rhode Island: Physicians' Organization Throws Support Behind Marijuana Legalization Effort


Doctors for Cannabis Regulation, an organization led by some of the most prominent physicians in the country, has formally endorsed the effort to legalize and regulate marijuana for adult use in Rhode Island.

The addition of DFCR to the Regulate Rhode Island coalition comes at a pivotal time, just as state lawmakers are considering legislation to end marijuana prohibition.

Members of DFCR’s leadership team include former U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Joycelyn Elders; integrative medicine pioneer Dr. Andrew Weil; Dr. H. Westley Clark, former director of the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment; Dr. Chris Beyrer, founder and director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Public Health and Human Rights; Dr. Lester Grinspoon, associate professor emeritus of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School; Dr. David Lewis, professor emeritus of Medicine and Community Health at Brown University; Dr. Donald Abrams, chief of the Hematology-Oncology Division at San Francisco General Hospital; and Dr. David Nathan, a Distinguished Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association and clinical associate professor of Psychiatry at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School.

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."

Rhode Island: Poll Shows 55 Percent Support For Legal Recreational Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Rhode Island lawmakers are considering a bill to legalize recreational marijuana in the state. The bill, H 7752, is known as the 'Marijuana Regulation, Control, and Taxation Act.'

It would make possession of small amounts of marijuana legal for adults 21 years of age and older. It would also establish a tightly controlled system of licensed marijuana cultivation sites, testing facilities, and retail stores.

A recent poll was conducted by Brown University which found strong support for such a public policy change. Per Brown University:

A strong majority of Rhode Island voters, 67 percent, support the state’s current law allowing the use of marijuana for medical purposes. A majority, 55 percent, support passing a law to regulate and tax the use of marijuana for recreational use, similarly to how alcohol is taxed and regulated. Voters 44 and younger strongly supported this change, at 72 percent, with voters 65 and older split — 43 percent approve and 42 oppose.

Rhode Island: House Judiciary Committee Holds Hearing On Marijuana Legalization Bill


The Rhode Island House Judiciary Committee is scheduled to hold a hearing Tuesday on a bill that would end marijuana prohibition in the state and replace it with a system in which adults can purchase marijuana from licensed businesses, similarly to alcohol.

Shortly before the hearing, marijuana market researchers, business owners, and entrepreneurs joined Regulate Rhode Island for a news conference to discuss the legislation’s potential to foster new businesses and create thousands of jobs in Rhode Island.

“This bill would provide a tremendous economic boost for our state, which is one of several reasons why our state legislators should not delay voting on it,” said Regulate Rhode Island Director Jared Moffat. “This proposal would create dozens of new businesses and thousands of new jobs across Rhode Island. Our state’s unemployment rate is still significantly higher than our neighbors’, and this legislation will put many Rhode Islanders back to work.”

H 7752, known as the Marijuana Regulation, Control, and Taxation Act, would make possession of limited amounts of marijuana legal for adults 21 years of age and older, and it would establish a tightly controlled system of licensed marijuana cultivation sites, testing facilities, and retail stores.

Rhode Island: Marijuana Legalization Bill Gets Hearing Tomorrow

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

A hearing is scheduled Tuesday for the Rhode Island House Judiciary Committee on a bill that would end marijuana prohibition in the state and replace it with a system in which adults can purchase marijuana from businesses, much like alcohol.

A news conference will precede the hearing with marijuana market researchers, business owners, and entrepreneurs joining Regulate Rhode Island to discuss the legislation's potential to create thousands of jobs and encourage new business development.

The House Lounge of the Statehouse is the scheduled location and the conference is scheduled for 1 PM ET. The hearing is scheduled to take place at the rise of the House in Room 101.

“This bill would provide a tremendous economic boost for our state, which is one of several reasons why our state legislators should not delay voting on it,” said Regulate Rhode Island Director Jared Moffat. “This proposal would create dozens of new businesses and thousands of new jobs across Rhode Island. Our state’s unemployment rate is still significantly higher than our neighbors’, and this legislation will put many Rhode Islanders back to work.”

The proposal would make possession of small amounts of marijuana legal for adults 21 and over. It would establish a tightly controlled system of licensed marijuana cultivation sites, retail stores, and testing facilities.

Rhode Island: Governor's Proposed Plan To Tax Medical Marijuana Meets Opposition

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo has proposed a plan to tax medical marijuana plants, but her proposal was quickly met with opposition by Rep. Robert A. Nardolillo III, Republican.

Calling it an unconscionable tax on sick people, Nardolillo voiced his opposition in a press release to Marijuana Majority's Twitter feed. “The patients and caregivers who grow these plants do so because of legitimate illnesses that just happen to not respond to traditional forms of communication,” Nardolillo said in the release. “Many of these people wake up every day having to figure out how they’re going to manage their pain. Putting taxes on these plants is tantamount to charging people a fee to be sick.”

Gov. Raimondo's proposal would charge patients $150 for each plant grown; patients are allowed to grow up to six plants. Caregivers can cultivate up to 24 plants and provide medical marijuana for up to five people; the governor's plan would impose a tax of $350 on each of their plants.

“This proposal would certainly never fly with any other form of medication,” Representative Nardolillo continued. “Can you imagine if a proposal was made to tax a specific medication? These are Rhode Islanders who are suffering.”

Patients and advocates say the plan would make the medicine unaffordable. Many patients must grow their own, saying they cannot afford the high cost of medical marijuana at Rhode Island's three compassion centers.

Rhode Island: Lawmakers Fail To Act On Widely Supported Marijuana Legalization Bill


The Marijuana Regulation, Control, and Taxation Act had bipartisan backing in both chambers, and an April poll found 57 percent of Rhode Island voters in favor of such a measure

Rhode Island state lawmakers late Thursday recessed the legislative session leaving hundreds of bills, including a widely supported proposal to make marijuana legal for adults and regulate it similarly to alcohol, pending action. Legislative leaders have indicated they may call a special session in the fall to finish their agenda.

“Lawmakers’ decision to recess without voting on this widely supported legislation is disappointing, to say the least,” said Regulate Rhode Island Director Jared Moffat. “We believe we have the votes needed to pass the measure this session, and we’re optimistic that we’ll still have the votes if and when they come back for a special session.

"We hope to work with leaders in both chambers over the summer to ensure lawmakers are given a chance to cast them,” Moffat said.

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