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Legalize Pot? Should Marijuana Be Legalized and Taxed?

State legislators propose full legalization of marijuana, which would be taxed and regulated like alcohol.

 

It is time again to end a useless prohibition, according to two legislators who have proposed legalizing marijuana.

Rep. Edith Ajello and Sen. Donna Nesselbush announced Wednesday they have proposed legislation to legalize marijuana possession in Rhode Island for adults age 21 and older. Pot would be regulated and taxed similar to alcohol under their proposal. The legislation follows last year's decriminalization of marijuana possession in Rhode Island, due to go into effect this spring.

“It is time for Rhode Island to put the failed policy of marijuana prohibition behind us and adopt a more sensible approach just as our nation did with alcohol 80 years ago,” Ajello said in a prelease. “Regulating marijuana like alcohol will take marijuana sales off the street and put them in the hands of legitimate businesses that would face real disincentives for selling to minors. These new businesses will also create jobs and generate much-needed new tax revenue.”

Under the Marijuana Regulation, Control and Taxation Act, Rhode Islanders over 21 would be permitted ton have up to an ounce of marijuana and grow up to three marijuana plants in their homes.

The legislation also calls for licensed marijuana retail stores, grow facilities and testing facilities to ensure that marijuana sold in Rhode Island is free of contaminants or other drugs. Under the bill, the Department of Business Regulation would establish rules regulating security, labeling, health and safety requirements, and rules requiring advertising of marijuana, which must be no less restrictive than the rules for tobacco advertising. 

The legislation would charge an excise tax of up to $50 per ounce on wholesale purchases of marijuana. Retailers would also be required to collect the state’s 7-percent sales tax.

Nesselbush and Diaz said banning marijuana has done little to stop drug use, and instead has created a black market that makes buying marijuana more dangerous and supports gangs and cartels. The state could make marijuana use safer while tax dollars.

“Taxing and regulating the sale of marijuana will rob drug dealers of one of their reasons for being," Nesselbush said. "It will likely reduce crime, weaken gangs and cartels and allow our hard-working law enforcement officials to focus on serious and/or violent crime. Taxing and regulating would also create the potential for much-needed state revenue."

Even if the proposal passes, Rhode Islanders are not necessarily safe from prosecution. Federal laws prohibiting marijuana stiil apply, though most arrests for marijuana possession are made under state law, and legislation was introduced in Congress Tuesday to legalize, regulate and tax marijuana federally.

Rhode Island would not be alone in legalizing the substance. In November, voters in Colorado and Washington approved laws that would legalize, regulate and tax marijuana. Similar bills have also been introduced this year in the Hawaii and New Hampshire state legislatures, and are expected in Maine, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Vermont.

What do you think? Should marijuana be legalized and taxed? Do you think the General Assembly will approve the legislation?

 


John Grant February 08, 2013 at 09:09 PM
Please read a book, You will notice that when you see a real talk about the pros and cons people that want legal weed point to studies and people like John M talk about it harming people when they dont know anyone harmed my this plant. I cant OD on weed but i bet you i can drink your self to death. You dont get chem addicted to weed but cigs and drinks are ok.
Marlon February 09, 2013 at 08:55 AM
Mary Jane arguably the safest "drug" on the market. The pros far out way the cons when it comes to the debate. Times have changed more and more people have become knowledgeable about the ins and outs of certain drugs not just for their personal use, but for the sake of the argument. No one as ever died from this plant, overdose, or suffered from withdrawals anything beside catch a huge appetite maybe. A fact to support Kevin's usage chart; Out of any of those drugs "the people" chose Marijuana for varies good reasons. Prohibition of Marijuana causes more harm than it does good. Ended Marijuana Prohibition would change things for the better.
Doug Woods February 09, 2013 at 11:38 PM
I have to say Kevin pulled statistics on your ass.
Esoteric Knowledge February 10, 2013 at 06:32 PM
Cigarette users would probably do all those things you mentioned...but instead they go down to the corner store and buy cigarettes.
joeshmo March 28, 2013 at 01:35 AM
Please do. I may finally have something that actually helps me sleep at night that I can use without fear of loosing my job if I get tested. Drugs that ruin lives in this country isn't thc , its heroin, crack, meth, and yes alcohol. That's because all of those have a physical dependence to them once used for a period of time. I smoked weed for years and quit fairly easily when I was hired at my company 10 years ago. I'd actually still smoke if it wasn't for the drug free workplace law. We all know that its complete BS that law even exists. Its not even fair. You smoke a joint on the weekend , go to work on a Monday and get tested for whatever reason, you get fired. Marijuana stays in your system anywhere from 8 days to a month so how can that law be justified. There is no proof based on a drug test that it was actually consumed at work. Do you see my point? Lots of people are in jail because of a plant. A PLANT. Not to mention how many have lost their jobs. It has many other uses too. To all those who don't know, please read about it. If it ain't for you then so be it, that doesn't mean others should loose their rites to something this earth has given us. Until then I'm stuck with ambien and possible sleep driving my car around town.

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