The efforts to repeal marijuana prohibition in the Ocean State has taken a giant leap forward.
Regulate Rhode Island announced at a news conference on Tuesday in the State House rotunda support for replacing marijuana prohibition with sensible regulations from leaders in three Rhode Island political parties.
Rep. Edith Ajello and political leaders representing different parties each presented brief statements about why marijuana regulation is the best approach from all political perspectives. Speakers at the event include Dr. Daniel Harrop (Republican candidate for Mayor of Providence and chairman of the Rhode Island Center for Freedom and Prosperity), Patricia Smith (chairwoman of the Social and Economic Justice Committee of the Rhode Island chapter of the Progressive Democrats of America), Michael Rollins (chairman of the Libertarian Party of Rhode Island), Kristina Fox (co-founder and president emeritus of the Young Democrats of Rhode Island), and Richard Ford (chairman of the Republican Liberty Caucus).
The Marijuana Regulation, Control, and Taxation Act (H 7506 & S 2379), which would replace marijuana prohibition with a system to regulate and tax the sale of marijuana to adults, was introduced earlier this year by Rep. Edith Ajello and Senator Josh Miller and has bi-partisan sponsorship in both the House and Senate.
Statement from Rep. Edith Ajello, Sponsor of H 7506
"It is rare that leaders with such different political philosophies agree on a particular policy. The Regulate Rhode Island campaign is demonstrating today that there is a virtual consensus from all political perspectives that our current policy of marijuana prohibition has failed and regulation is the way forward. For some of us this is a personal liberty issue. For others it is a social justice issue. My position is that marijuana prohibition has failed to keep young people away from marijuana, and we need a new approach. By allowing adults to legally purchase marijuana from licensed businesses, we will eliminate the dangerous illegal marijuana industry that recruits students to sell marijuana in their high schools. And by imposing strict regulations on marijuana, we will have more control over where, how, and to whom it is sold. It's time to regulate marijuana in Rhode Island."
Statement from Jared Moffat, Director of Regulate Rhode Island
“This is really a sign that the movement to regulate marijuana is growing and has gained support from just about every political perspective. From personal liberty to public safety to social justice, there are so many reasons that Rhode Island should act now and hold a vote House Bill 7506 and Senate Bill 2379. All of us in the Regulate Rhode Island coalition are absolutely committed to continue organizing and raising awareness about this important issue until we win.”
Statement from Dr. Daniel Harrop, Republican candidate for Providence mayor and chairman of the Rhode Island Center for Freedom and Prosperity
"Ending marijuana prohibition is totally consistent with conservative principles. It is certainly a personal liberty issue, and the number of people trapped in the criminal justice system simply for distributing small amounts of marijuana is appalling. I would much rather have licensed businesses control the production and sale of marijuana, with oversights like those for tobacco and alcohol, than continue keeping it in the shadows."
Statement from Kristina Fox, co-founder and president emeritus of the Young Democrats of Rhode Island
"The Young Democrats of Rhode Island support regulating, controlling, and taxing marijuana. Without a doubt this is the best alternative to the current policy of prohibition, which does far more harm than good for Rhode Island's young people. Policies like stop-and-frisk, which are primarily used to enforce our failed drug laws, unfairly target young people, especially young men of color. Students who are convicted of a nonviolent marijuana crime can lose funding for college. They will struggle for the rest of their lives with a criminal record that closes off opportunities for them to better their lives and their communities. Rhode Island’s young people deserve better."
Statement from Michael Rollins, chairman of the Libertarian Party of Rhode Island
"Marijuana prohibition has long been the centerpieces of our nation's destructive war on drugs. It is outrageous that our law enforcement officers are being armed to the teeth and directed to invade our citizens' homes simply because they might be growing a couple of marijuana plants. This is a totally illegitimate use of state violence against its own citizens, and it has resulted in more than a few innocent lives being lost. How many more SWAT team home invasions are we going to put up with before we change course? Let's do the right thing and end the failed policy of marijuana prohibition."
Statement from Patricia Smith, chairwoman of the Social and Economic Justice Committee of the Rhode Island chapter of the Progressive Democrats of America
“With thirty years of experience teaching high school students and fourteen years as a college professor, I’ve seen that using fear tactics and heavy-handed punishments to discourage young people from using marijuana has actually backfired, because it makes adults lose credibility and trust. Punishing people for nonviolent marijuana offenses has not helped our young people in any way. There are a lot of advantages to regulating and taxing marijuana. For one, we can test marijuana so that consumers can be safer by knowing the potency and knowing that it’s not laced with other drugs or chemicals. Second, I would rather see marijuana taxed by the state so that we can use that money for vital social programs than to allow sales of marijuana to enrich criminals who sell it in the underground market. It's time we end the failed policy of marijuana prohibition.”
Statement from Richard Ford, chairman of the Republican Liberty Caucus
"Marijuana prohibition is an affront to personal liberty. The government has no business telling adults that they cannot cultivate a relatively benign plant in the privacy of their own home. Not only that, but with our state's dire economic challenges, we're losing out on the opportunity to create hundreds of jobs and new businesses. Regulating marijuana would be a win both for freedom and for our state's economy."