US (RI): Lawmakers unveil cannabis legalization bill after months of negotiations

Rhode Island lawmakers from both chambers unveiled a much-anticipated bill to legalize cannabis in the Ocean State—a move that comes about a month after Gov. Dan McKee (D) included a proposal to end cannabis prohibition as part of his annual budget plan.

Sen. Joshua Miller (D) and Rep. Scott Slater (D) introduced the new legislation, which would create a system of licensed businesses to produce and sell cannabis while allowing adults 21 and older to purchase and possess up to an ounce. They could also grow up to six plants at home, three of which could be mature. The allowable possession limit for marijuana stored in a given household would be maxed out at 10 ounces.

Key Rhode Island lawmakers have said for months that they were nearing a deal on the legalization measure and have been working since last year to reconcile competing proposals that have previously been brought forward by the House, Senate and governor’s office.

One of the key provisions that have divided legislators concerns whether the adult-use market should be regulated by an existing agency or a newly created body. The bill released on Tuesday calls for a hybrid model, with responsibilities being shared by a new independent Cannabis Control Commission (CCC) and a Cannabis Office under the Department of Business Regulation (DBR). A new advisory board would also assist.

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