Guest MINDSETTER ™ Berwick: How to Legalize Marijuana in RI

Wednesday, July 22, 2015


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Legislation has been introduced in the Rhode Island General Assembly to legalize the sale and possession of marijuana. However, marijuana, like tobacco, can be very harmful to children and adults.  

Protecting Kids and Adults

To protect children and adults, Rhode Island should control and regulate the growth, quality, strength, packaging and sale of marijuana.  To accomplish this, Rhode Island should ask tobacco companies to submit bids to come to Rhode Island and set up facilities to grow and package the marijuana products that would be sold in Rhode Island. These facilities would be owned and leased to the chosen tobacco company by the state of Rhode Island.

The tobacco company selected would be allowed to sell these marijuana products to other states where they are legal and to foreign countries where they are legal. Many new jobs would be created. Rhode Island's income tax revenue and sales tax revenue would greatly increase once these new marijuana production facilities are in operation.

Tobacco and marijuana products would be sold in vending machines owned, serviced and provided by the state of RI. Tobacco products would be sold by the carton and marijuana products would be sold by the ounce. These vending machines could be placed inside or outside each business and payment would have to be made with a personal credit card.

Limits on the amounts of tobacco products and marijuana products sold each week using each credit card would be established. Providing these products to children would be punishable by a fine of $1,000.00.  

The high cost of these products and the fines involved would make it difficult for anyone to buy them and supply them to children or adults. The use of credit cards would make it possible for local authorities to regulate the sale of medical marijuana without the need to set up expensive and difficult to regulate compassion centers.  In addition, each credit card company would provide the state of Rhode Island with all profits and taxes owed to the state for the sale of these products on a monthly basis.

Helping the RI Economy      

Thousands of businesses in RI would benefit financially by having a tobacco/marijuana vending machines and no expensive, difficult to regulate, state sponsored marijuana production and sales outlets would have to be established. Private individuals in Rhode Island would not be allowed to grow or sell marijuana products or gather in public establishments to use marijuana products.

The illegal sale of marijuana products would drop dramatically in Rhode Island because state produced products would be legal, cheaper, safer and available at thousands of locations. And, in addition to state taxes, Rhode Island would make a significant profit on each tobacco sale and on each marijuana sale. The laws against smoking these products in public places would still be enforced.

Clerks in convenience stores, drug stores and gas stations would no longer have to worry about being charged by the police for selling tobacco products to children and police agencies would not be wasting valuable time and money chasing down and arresting these mostly honest and hard working individuals.

Rhode Island has strict rules regulating the production, packaging, quality, strength and sale of prescription drugs and alcohol. Rhode Island should do the same for the legal sale of marijuana and tobacco products. The profits and taxes produced by the sale of these products in Rhode Island would make it possible for the State of Rhode Island to fully fund education and health care costs. Local car taxes could be eliminated and local property taxes could be greatly reduced. These tax reductions would provide a huge economic stimulus to Rhode Island's economy and greatly reduce Rhode Island's unemployment rate.

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Kenneth Berwick of Smithfield, RI Served three years in the United States Marine Corps from 1954-1957. Berwick is a retired teacher with a BA from RIC in 1960 and a Masters from Syracuse in 1969.


Related Slideshow: The Highest Marijuana Prices in New England by State

The "crowdsourced" website, The Price of Weed, uses consumer input to show how much an ounce of marijuana costs -- by location.  

Below are the rankings of New England states, from lowest price reported for "medium grade" marijuana, to highest, along with the number ("n") submitting data.  

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#6 Rhode Island


Med: $254.87/oz (n=332)

High: $334.55/oz (n=490)
Low: $204.34/oz (n=31)
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#5 Maine


Med: $260.92/oz (n=395)

High: $322.94/oz (n=423)
Low: $227.68/oz (n=49)
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#4 Connecticut


Med:  $275.19/oz (n=1204)

High:  $353.65/oz (n=1210)
Low:  $261.74/oz (n=88)
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#3 Massachusetts


Med:  $297.83/oz (n=2305)

High:  $359.88/oz (n=2705)
Low:  $215.93/oz (n=208)
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#2 New Hampshire


Med: $313.01/oz (n=410)

High: $377.02/oz (n=399)
Low: $608.01/oz (n=34)
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#1 Vermont


Med: $325.34/oz (n=209)

High: $380.48/oz (n=262)
Low: $187.06/oz (n=24)

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