PROVIDENCE, RI — A bill that would legalize marijuana for adults 21 and older in Rhode Island has stalled in the House, but a companion bill remains pending in the Senate.
House Bill 5274, introduced by Rep. Edith Ajello (D-Providence) on February 6, has been held for further study by the House Judiciary Committee following a hearing in late February.
The bill, if passed, would make marijuana legal for adults 21 and older and establish a system in which marijuana is regulated and taxed similarly to alcohol.
A companion bill, Senate Bill 334, has been introduced in the Rhode Island Senate by Sen. Donna Nesselbush, and has been assigned to the Senate Judiciary Committee, ,where it awaits further action.
Both bills would remove state-level criminal penalties for the private possession by adults age 21 and over of up to one ounce of marijuana and for the home-growing of up to three mature marijuana plants in an enclosed, locked space.
The legislation would establish a tightly regulated system of licensed marijuana retail stores, cultivation facilities, and testing facilities to ensure that marijuana sold in Rhode Island is free of contaminants or other drugs.
The legislation enacts an excise tax of up to $50 per ounce on the wholesale sale of marijuana applied at the point of transfer from the cultivation facility to a retail store. Additionally, retailers would be required to collect the state’s 7-percent sales tax on marijuana.
If the legalization bills fail at the state house, similar legislation could be sent to the voters as early as 2014.
The Rhode Island legislature is no stranger to enacting marijuana reform bills, passing legislation that legalized medical marijuana in 2009 and decriminalized possession of marijuana in 2012.