Rhode Island governor renews push for recreational marijuana legalization

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Rhode Island Gov. Dan McKee, as expected, is pushing again for recreational marijuana to be legalized this year.

McKee’s office included recreational marijuana in its Fiscal Year 2023 budget released Thursday, characterizing the plan in a media presentation as a “phased-in introduction of retail licenses.”

Rhode Island is seen by industry experts as a leading candidate to legalize adult-use marijuana in this year’s legislative session.

Most of the New England’s states have now legalized recreational marijuana, including Connecticut last year.

New Hampshire is the other holdout.

Rhode Island’s state Senate overwhelmingly passed its version of an adult-use bill by a 29-9 vote in June 2021, but the Legislature adjourned without a House vote.

Lawmakers reportedly have been negotiating on a compromise between the Senate bill, which called for up to 150 stores, and the governor’s initial plan, which called for 25 retail licenses. Both had a social equity component.

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An executive summary of McKee’s budget calls for adult-use marijuana products to carry an excise retail tax of 10% in addition to the state’s sales tax, which currently is 7%.

The new fiscal year starts July 1.

Jeff Smith can be reached at jeff.smith@mjbizdaily.com.