Rhode Island Senate passes recreational cannabis legalization bill

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The upper chamber of the Rhode Island General Assembly on Tuesday easily approved a bill to legalize recreational cannabis, and the measure now heads to the House of Representatives for final approval before it can be sent to the governor.

The Rhode Island Senate approved S 598 on a 29-9 vote, according to the Washington DC-based Marijuana Policy Project.

The House has until the legislative session adjourns June 30 to approve the bill.

Gov. Dan McKee has indicated he favors legalizing recreational marijuana in the state.

If the House does not approve the measure by June 30, some observers are expecting a special legislative session to be called so lawmakers can finalize legalization.

“After roughly a decade of public discussion and debate in Rhode Island, this is the first time a legislative chamber in the General Assembly has voted on a bill to legalize cannabis for adults,” Jared Moffat, state campaigns manager for MPP, noted in the release.

Two more legalization measures have also been submitted in the Legislature, but neither has gained serious traction.

If Rhode Island does legalize adult-use marijuana in this session, it would be the fifth state to do so in 2021, following Connecticut, New Mexico, New York and Virginia.