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How Did Rhode Island’s Marijuana Senate Bill Get Labeled SB420?

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Rhode Island’s recreational marijuana legalization bill is numbered Senate Bill 420. That number is synonymous with marijuana subculture. While you may think that this was intentional, it’s purely coincidental.

The bill aims to make possession of small amounts of marijuana for personal use legal, according to Rhode Island Public Radio. Marijuana sales would not be legal until a study commission derives a program to implement sales. Senators, according to Greg Pare, have zero control over how a bill is numbered.

Bills are numbered in the order in which they are introduced, appropriately enough; Rhode Island’s marijuana legalization bill just so happened to be the four-hundred-and-twentieth bill introduced this legislative session.

Pare said, “Something for folks to contemplate while folks are listening to their Pink Floyd.”

The bill is sponsored by Senator Joshua Miller. If passed, Rhode Island’s legislation would take effect around the same time that Massachusetts’s recreational sales begin. Miller says that once recreational sales start in Massachusetts; there are no ways to stop Rhode Island residents from traveling to Massachusetts to make sales.

Another reason to pass the bill, according to Senator Miller, is for the millions of dollars in tax revenue a legal marijuana market could bring to the state.

Miller also says, he had nothing to do with the number the bill was assigned.

Senator Miller said, “I had nothing to do with that, but there are staff that may have tracked and moved a couple of bills around. I wouldn’t be surprised if that happened.”

He also said, “I think there is a humor. It’s interesting and people remember what bill we’re talking about so it helped in that way.”

Legalization advocates don’t share the same thoughts of humor.

Jared Moffat of Regulate RI said, “I would see humor in it if there were more respect given to the voters in the state that want to move forward. I mean if there was a vote on that I’d laugh if it passed. That’d be great.”

Moffat does, however, support the bill and says it is a step in the right direction.

Moffat said, “We think the proposal puts us on the path towards legalization, but does it in a way that very slow, methodical and that’s what the legislators that we’ve talked to seem to want.”

The bill may not make it through the legislative process this year, but it does continue the conversation about legalizing recreational marijuana in Rhode Island.