R.I. considers marijuana legalization as New England turns green – Fall River Herald News

Pot stores are opening in Massachusetts. You can now grow your own in Maine and Vermont. And Connecticut’s new governor says legalizing marijuana will be a priority of his.

PROVIDENCE — Pot stores are opening in Massachusetts. You can now grow your own in Maine and Vermont. And Connecticut’s new governor says legalizing marijuana will be a priority of his.

When Rhode Island lawmakers return to Smith Hill next month they will find the regional marijuana landscape greening around them.

That reality will influence the strategies both sides of the pot legalization argument employ this time around, they say. Despite years of hearings and study commissions, the question of legalization has never reached lawmakers for a vote.

“With the reality of it being all around us, I think folks have to look at it a little harder now,” said Scott Slater, a Democratic state representative from Providence who has seen his perennial legalization legislation stall every year.

“Even if you’re against recreational cannabis and you feel there are social costs to it, you’re going to be dealing with those issues within your own borders, regardless, and without any of the revenue you could be raising. You might as well regulate it and tax it and put some of that money toward prevention.”

Kevin A. Sabet, president of the national anti-legalization group Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM), says, “Rhode Island is definitely a priority for us going into 2019. If anything, the stakes have gotten higher in terms of the effects of legalization around the country.”

Ten states have legalized recreational marijuana: Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington.

Sabet says data his group has released shows marijuana use among all age groups 12 and older “has gone way up since legalization” in Colorado and Washington.

“All

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