Rhode Island estimate: $15M in tax revenue from MJ legalization

Rhode Island could net $10 million-$15 million in tax revenue during the first year of cannabis sales if it legalizes recreational marijuana, the states’s governor told the Providence Journal.

It’s the latest indication from Gov. Gina Raimondo that her administration is considering regulating and taxing adult-use cannabis. It’s also the first time an administration official has made a marijuana revenue forecast, the Providence Journal reported.

But Matt Sheaff, a spokesman for the state’s Department of Business Regulation, cautioned that Raimondo’s figure is a “back-of-the-napkin” forecast and does not mean legalization is imminent, according to the newspaper.

“This is not something we should be rushing into or that the governor intends to include in her budget,” Sheaff said.

Lawmakers may force Raimondo to move soon, though.

Jared Moffat, head of Regulate Rhode Island, predicted lawmakers will introduce a rec legalization bill within a month of returning to the state capital for their legislative session in January.

Meanwhile, the Rhode Island ACLU and Rhode Island Patient Advocacy Coalition want to overturn new medical cannabis regulations introduced by the Raimondo administration that are to take effect Jan. 1.

The groups say medical cannabis patients will be unnecessarily burdened by rules that require them to see doctors two times a year and to turn over records documenting their medical condition.

Rhode Island legalized medical marijuana in 2006, and more than 16,360 patients are now enrolled in the program, according to the Providence Journal.