Rhode Island lawmakers raise questions about plan to legalize recreational cannabis

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Rhode Island lawmakers held their first joint hearing on a proposal to legalize recreational marijuana, but the measure received considerable pushback and prospects look dimmer without some reworking or compromises.

The Providence Journal reported the state’s Senate Finance and Judiciary committees lawmakers had several criticisms about the plan unveiled this week, including that it provides too little money for drug-abuse prevention.

Other lawmakers questioned the cost of new positions for a cannabis regulatory commission and said some proposed penalties were overly excessive.

To help possibly implement recreational marijuana and make changes to the medical cannabis law, the state has hired Andrew Freedman – former director of marijuana coordination for the state of Colorado – who oversaw the state’s legal marijuana program rollout from 2014 to 2017.

WPRI reported that Freedman’s contract, which began in January, said the firm Freedman & Koski will receive $90,000 in 2019.

Gov. Gina Raimondo included potentially legalizing recreational marijuana as part of her budget for the next fiscal year.

Her proposal would ban home growing and bar high-potency products from store shelves.

Recreational marijuana sales could start by next January if approved.

Associated Press and Marijuana Business Daily