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Earlier this month, marijuana law reform measures were approved by voters in Oregon, Alaska, Washington D.C., several municipalities in Michigan, one city in Maine, and even the U.S. territory of Guam. Pro-marijuana advocates have announced plans to push for legalization to appear on ballots in many more states in 2016. Advocates in Rhode Island have decided not to wait that long, and will be pushing for legalization in 2015.
The pro-marijuana association known as Regulate Rhode Island, comprised of state residents and organizations, is working to end marijuana prohibition and the failed war on drugs in their state. The organization supports regulating and taxing legal marijuana in the same manner as alcohol, just as Colorado and Washington do already, and Oregon and Alaska will soon enough. Medical marijuana is already legal in the state of Rhode Island, but an attempt to legalize, regulate and tax recreational cannabis, lead by state representatives Edith Ajello and Joshua Miller, failed in 2014. Now, Regulate Rhode Island is already working to make a push in the state legislature next spring.

The initiative has already earned public support from retired Rhode Island police officer, Elizabeth Comery, as well as the support of Dr. James Crowley, practicing physician and former president of the Rhode Island Medical Society.

Retired officer, Elizabeth A. Comery, told the Providence Journal,

“I am part of the Regulate Rhode Island Coalition because when I worked for the Providence Police Department, I saw first-hand how destructive and ineffective our punitive marijuana laws are. Like alcohol prohibition, marijuana prohibition has not stopped Americans from using the substance. It would be much better from a public safety perspective to regulate marijuana and have it sold by responsible business owners who must operate within the law.’’

Dr. James Crowley, also shared his opinion on the matter with the Providence Journal, explaining,

“Health professional increasingly support regulating cannabis because they have seen after more than four decades that prohibition does not promote public health. Regulation is far better than prohibition because it allows the state to ensure that cannabis is produced under safe and sanitary conditions and labeled with information about potency.”

To gain voter support in the state, Regulate Rhode Island is hosting an educational forum on November 18 to discuss the marijuana legalization proposal, and answer questions about the benefits that will come from regulating and taxing cannabis similarly to alcohol.

Another method the initiative is using to gain support and educate voters is photographing members of the organization holding signs stating why they personally support the movement. Many of these members wrote they support ending the war on marijuana because of the fact that black people are, on average, almost four times more likely to be arrested for marijuana than white people. This information about the disgusting racial disparity among marijuana arrests in the United States was revealed by a study published by the American Civil Liberties Union.

photo credit: Regulate Rhode Island Facebook

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