2013-09-12 / News

Pro-marijuana group aims for legalization

The nation’s largest marijuanapolicy organization announced this week that it will support efforts to end marijuana prohibition in at least 10 more states by 2017, including Rhode Island. The Marijuana Policy Project’s announcement comes one day before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to hold a hearing to address the Justice Department’s recent decision to allow states to regulate the cultivation and sale of marijuana.

The project will continue working with state lawmakers and local advocates to pass legislation in Rhode Island that would tax and regulate marijuana and make it legal for adults in a manner similar to alcohol. Rhode Island passed a law to remove criminal penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana in June 2012.

The Justice Department announced on Aug. 29 that it will not try to prevent Colorado and Washington from moving forward with implementation of voter-approved laws establishing state-regulated systems of marijuana cultivation and retail sales. Federal prosecutors were also advised not to target businesses and individuals complying with state laws regulating and taxing marijuana.

A January 2012 Public Policy Polling survey found that 52 percent of Rhode Island voters support making marijuana legal for adults 21 and older. Forty-one percent of voters were opposed and 7 percent were undecided.

State Rep. Edith Ajello, a Democrat from Providence, introduced legislation in February of this year to legalize marijuana with regulations and taxes similar to alcohol. The House bill had a total of 19 sponsors. It died following a hearing with the House Judiciary Committee.

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