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Rhode Island Governor Is in “No Rush” to Legalize Marijuana

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While nearly 60 percent of Rhode Island voters support legalizing recreational marijuana, the Governor isn’t in a hurry. Legalization is not likely to come before decriminalization. Lawmakers are taking their time to ensure that proper legislation is put in place.

Public Policy Polling showed a 2 percent increase in recreational marijuana legalization support between 2015 and 2016 in Rhode Island, according to Cranston Online. The minor stumbles that other states have had in enacting marijuana legislation makes Governor Raimondo a bit hesitant. One of her biggest concerns is children getting their hands on edibles.

Spokesperson for Governor Raimondo’s office, David Ortiz, said, “We expect that the General Assembly will be, if not in this fiscal year then at some point, taking a hard look at legalizing marijuana. That’s what’s happening in other states, that’s what’s happening with our neighbors.”

Ortiz also said, “The governor expects that could well be in our futures. She’s not opposed to it if it’s done responsibly, so she is less concerned with Rhode Island being first at rushing to legalize and more concerned with making sure that if and when it’s made legal that it’s done in a manner that protects general public safety and provides protections for children.”

Ortiz continued by saying, “But we believe that it’s more important to have the proper regulatory framework. And there would be new revenue as a result but the governor isn’t looking to rush to legalize marijuana to get that revenue to pay for other things. We believe that the proposals we put forth in this budget are affordable and that it’s important to be deliberate and have the regulatory framework in place for when and if marijuana’s legalized.”

Regarding the future of marijuana in Rhode Island, Ortiz said, “I would say that she understands that this could be in our future, and she’s not opposed. But she’s committed to making sure it’s done responsibly and safely.”

Legislation to pass recreational marijuana is on the table in this session. It is not clear whether the bill will pass this session or not.