Two Rhode Island lawmakers say that they have enough votes to pass recreational marijuana legislation. These lawmakers say that there is ample support in both chambers for the bills to pass. Now, the House and Senate just have to allow a vote for the legislation to move further.
Representative Scott Slater and Senator Joshua Miller have been advocating hard for their legislation, according to Providence Journal. Attorney General Peter Kilmartin is adamantly against legalization, but Slater and Miller have fought hard against his anti-legalization efforts. If passed, cities and towns would be able to set specific guidelines for marijuana businesses or ban them entirely.
Representative Slater said, “If we do not act, our neighbor to the north will be thrilled.”
Last year’s efforts had great support in the state, but the legislation was never granted a vote. This time around, though, allowing individual municipalities to opt-out may be more attractive to lawmakers so that no city or town absolutely has to have legal marijuana within its limits if its residents don’t want shops opening up.
The House Bill being considered has 25 sponsors. The Senate Bill has 15 sponsors. Some lawmakers have voiced their support but prefer to refrain from public sponsorship of the bills.
Miller said, “We have this group of people that feel it’s not necessarily what their focus is, but they feel that if it came to a floor vote, they would support it. That group of people has expanded every year.”
With the new support of more prominent, higher-profile lawmakers provides more hope to those advocating and supporting these efforts. Some lawmakers would prefer to forego legalization and require more studies instead.
Elizabeth Comery, former Providence police officer, said, “We don’t need more study groups. This isn’t new territory anymore.”
House spokesman Larry Berman said, “After a public hearing is held in the House Judiciary Committee, the speaker will review the testimony.”