Rhode Island Considers Legalizing and Taxing Marijuana

A legislative commission is exploring how much revenue could be generated by legalizing and taxing marijuana sales:

The group intends to study issues surrounding the state’s position on marijuana, including money the state might make if it legalized it and enacted a $35 “sin tax” for purchases of an ounce or more.

Other topics to be explored are the effects and costs of Rhode Island’s prohibition of the drug, except to sick people; whether adult use has increased since it was banned in 1918; whether its sales are financing drug cartels and fomenting violence; and its current availability to young people. The group will also look at how states and countries that have decriminalized the drug have fared.

One of the first subjects the panel will examine is Massachusetts’ experience since voters there overwhelmingly approved a ballot measure in November 2008 that decriminalized possessing small amounts of marijuana. People caught with less than an ounce face a $100 civil fine, but not criminal charges.

The group will gauge the effectiveness of that state’s policy and its impact on law enforcement and prison resources, said Sen. Joshua Miller, D-Cranston, one of five sponsors of the bill that created the commission.

The commission is set to submit its findings in a report by January 31, 2010.


4 responses to “Rhode Island Considers Legalizing and Taxing Marijuana

  1. I came over from RI Future.

    My comment there was that this is an issue that separates the real Libertarians from those who adopt the pose because they think it makes their anti-tax stand more principled.

    My question: can RI legalize marijuana? I ask because of the issues with medical marijuana in California. The state has legalized it for medicinal purposes, but the Feds–under the Boy-King George II–kept busting the dispensaries.

    Ann Arbor, Mich (home of Univ of Mich) famously decriminalized an ounce or less way back in the 70s. It was a $5 fine. But that’s still a big step from outright legalization.

  2. Valid medicinal value, it’s a victimless crime, the War on Drugs WAY too costly, too many arrests for simple possession, tax it and use the money to pay for health insurance and to reduce the deficit…Need I say more?

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  3. Pingback: Rhode Island Considers the Costs of Marijuana Criminalization « Closing Argument: a blog on truth, justice, the law (and the politics in between)

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