With Rhode Island’s governor and legislative leaders all expressing interest in legalizing marijuana next year, one big remaining sticking point is where cannabis products would be sold: through private retailers as is the case in every current legal state or under a first-of-its-kind state-run model proposed earlier this year the governor.
Senate President Dominick Ruggerio (D) said in an interview on Monday with The Providence Journal that he is taking the first steps to formulate a legalization plan by tasking Majority Leader Michael McCaffrey (D) and Sen. Joshua Miller (D) with working out the details for a marijuana bill for the 2021 legislative session, which begins next month.
McCaffrey told the paper he favors a model of private retailers rather than the state-run plan that Gov. Gina Raimondo (D) wants.
The pair’s backing of cannabis reform already marks a major shift from just a year ago. In December 2019, Ruggerio said legalization would be difficult to enforce and would “hurt young people,” while McCaffrey expressed concerns about how to drug test drivers and how employers would deal handle the change.
“Obviously we have had another year to review the issue,” McCaffrey said in Monday’s interview. “We are getting a lot of sins from legalizing of marijuana in Massachusetts coming into Rhode Island.”
McCaffrey first publicly backed legalizing cannabis last month in a speech during a Democratic caucus event at which his party colleagues renominated him to serve as majority leader.
“The time has come to legalize adult cannabis use,” he said at the time. “Our policy of prohibition no longer makes sense with Massachusetts moving towards a robust legalization system. We can create jobs, capture lost tax revenue and fund important social programs going forward.”
Miller, the other senator who Ruggerio tapped to lead the legalization charge in the new