A proposal to legalize marijuana was just filed in the Rhode Island Senate, and you won’t believe its bill number…
Remarkably, this isn’t the first time that important marijuana-related legislation has been given an official 420 designation.
California’s first attempt at creating statewide guidelines to implement the medical cannabis initiative that voters had approved years earlier was via a bill numbered SB 420.
And in Congress, the first time the U.S. House voted on an amendment to prevent the Department of Justice from interfering with state medical marijuana laws, it was Roll Call 420.
Rhode Island State Sen. Josh Miller (D) says that his new legislation’s bill number wasn’t by design.
“That is not something I can plan or participate in,” he told MassRoots in an email. “Just coincidence.”
Miller’s bill, filed Thursday, would allow adults over 21 years old to legally possess up to one ounce of marijuana in public — and five ounces at home — as well as infused cannabis products containing no more than a total of 300 mg of THC. People would be allowed to homegrow one cannabis plant.
A new state Office of Cannabis Coordination would be established to implement the law, craft regulations and, along with the existing Department of Business Regulation and Department of Health, issue marijuana business licenses.
There would be at least at least 40 licensed cannabis retailers, 25 cultivation facilities, 20 processors and 10 testing facilities. Marijuana products would be subject to a 23 percent retail excise tax on top of the state’s 7 percent sales tax.
Regulate Rhode Island, the state coalition working to pass the legislation, has more details here.
Identical companion legislation has already been filed in the state’s House of Representatives, though its bill number isn’t particularly significant: H 5555.
A poll released in January found that 59 percent of Rhode Island voters support legalizing marijuana.
Gov. Gina Raimondo and key legislative leaders like House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello say that they are open to ending prohibition this year but are primarily concerned with making sure the state gets the regulations right instead of rushing into legalization just to beat neighboring Massachusetts to the market.