Will Rhode Island Legalize Marijuana?

Saturday, November 17, 2012


Rhode Island lawmakers will consider legalizing marijuana during the 2013 legislative, House Judiciary chairperson Edith Ajello (D-1) said Thursday.

During a conference call with reporters, Ajello, who introduced similar legislation last year, said she believes legalizing and taxing marijuana will actually result in reduced use of the drug from minors.

“I want to see the criminal element out of this,” Ajello said. “I think that legalizing and taxing it just as we did with alcohol prohibition is the way to do it.”

Last week, voters in Washington and Colorado approved ballot questions that allowed those states to legalize the recreational use of marijuana. Robert Capecchi, a legislative analyst for the Marijuana Policy Project, said the country is at a tipping point when it comes to legalizing pot.

"Last week, Washington and Colorado replaced their states’ prohibitions on marijuana with a system of regulation and taxation,” Capecchi said. “Both measures passed with roughly 55% voting in favor. Gallup found 50% support for making marijuana legal last year, and that support has risen over the years. We are passing the tipping point when it comes to this issue. Unfortunately, lawmakers have traditionally been behind public opinion when it comes to marijuana policy reform. With these thoughtful legislators in at least four states planning on introducing sensible proposals to remove criminal penalties and regulate marijuana in their states, it's clear that ending marijuana prohibition is gaining momentum."

Ajello said she believes she has “a good number of supporters” and noted that House Minority Leader Brian Newberry supported the legislation last year. During the 2012 legislative session, lawmakers voted to decriminalize the possession of less than an ounce of marijuana.

“There’s much broader support among politicians than even I expected,” Ajello said.


Dan McGowan can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter: @danmcgowan.


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