Rhode Island lawmakers introduced a new bill to legalize marijuana on Friday, with just weeks left to go in the 2021 legislative session.
Two sources familiar with the situation told Marijuana Moment that because time is running out, lawmakers are likely to reconvene in September to tackle the legislation, in addition to separate legalization proposals that have been filed by the governor and Senate leaders.
The new House bill from Rep. Scott Slater (D) and several cosponsors includes similar policies to tax and regulate cannabis for adult use, but in some respects it seems to contain a greater focus on addressing social equity than the other measures—even if it doesn’t contain everything advocates want.
“I feel like it will be good and something that can pass which tries to address many of the concerns of interested parties,” Slater told Marijuana Moment.
According to a summary, the goals of the measure are to gradually establish a recreational marijuana market, build consensus from “a majority of stakeholders” and prevent the market from being oversaturated as has happened in the state’s existing medical cannabis program.
“We need to learn from past mistakes in the [medical] marijuana program. In 2016, licensed cultivators were allowed to enter the market with no analysis of what our market could support,” Slater said. “Because there was no limit on applicants, dozens of people spent enormous sums of money to enter a market that could never support them. Cultivators are still struggling today from that decision that set them up to fail.”
Under the new bill, adults 21 and older could purchase and possess up to one ounce of marijuana in public. The could also grow up to six cannabis plants at home, with a maximum of 12 plants allowed in residences where more than one adult lives.