Rhode Island Starts on Path to Recreational Cannabis

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Rhode Island is seen as a leading candidate to legalize recreational cannabis this year, and now state lawmakers finally have a pair of bills to consider.

A pair of Democratic legislators are sponsoring two identical measures (one in the Senate, one in the House) to tax and regulate marijuana like alcohol, which would pave the way for consumption, production and sales of cannabis.

“Regulating marijuana will take sales out of the underground market and allow authorities to keep tabs on the product,” said state Rep. Scott Slater, one of the two primary sponsors.

The Senate measure would authorize the state Department of Business Regulation to write rules for the industry, including a “tightly regulated system of licensed marijuana retail stores, cultivation facilities, and testing facilities,” according to a press release.

The bill gives first crack at rec licenses to the state’s three MMJ dispensaries, and then after 18 months the state would issue up to 10 additional rec business licenses.

The bill would further institute a wholesale excise tax for sales between cultivators and vendors, as well as a cannabis-specific sales tax.