New Rhode Island governor pitches adult-use cannabis legalization plan

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Rhode Island Gov. Dan McKee wants to legalize adult-use cannabis, proposing a program that would issue 25 retail licenses a year with a market launch in April 2022.

McKee, a Democrat who included the proposal as part of his fiscal-year 2022 budget, is following the lead of his predecessor, Gina Raimondo, who also advocated for adult-use legalization.

Raimondo recently resigned as governor to become President Joe Biden’s commerce secretary.

State Senate leaders have proposed a separate legalization plan calling for a Cannabis Control Commission to determine licensing and regulate the industry, according to the Providence Journal.

McKee’s proposal includes these elements:

  • Of the 25 annual retail licenses, five would be set aside for minority business enterprises.
  • An Office of Cannabis Regulation would license applicants and ensure compliance with packaging, labeling, security and safety requirements.
  • A retail excise tax of 10% on marijuana products would be imposed on top of the state’s 7% sales tax. There also would be a weight-based excise tax on marijuana cultivation.
  • Creation of a task force to make recommendations on investing marijuana revenues in job training, access to capital for small businesses, community development and other areas.

– Jeff Smith