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Rep. Canario’s bill to Create a Study Commission on Marijuana Legalization Passes the House


Rep. Dennis M. Canario’s (D-Dist. 71, Portsmouth, Little Compton, Tiverton) legislation (2017-H 5551A) that would create a 19-member special legislative commission to study the effects of legalizing recreational marijuana in Rhode Island passed the House of Representatives tonight.

“The potential effects of legalizing recreational marijuana in Rhode Island would have drastic impacts to the fabric of our state and this commission is necessary to determine if those effects would come with positive or negative outcomes,” said Representative Canario in a press release.  “There is too much at stake from both a financial and a public health standpoint to rush into legalization because Massachusetts has elected to do so.  This commission will take a thoughtful and data-driven approach to determine if legalizing marijuana is the right move for Rhode Island.”

The commission would consist of three members of the House of Representatives, three members of the Senate, one member from Smart Approaches to Marijuana, the President of the Substance Use Mental Health Council of RI or a designee, a member from a pro-legalization organization, the Executive Director of the RI Medical Society or a designee, a member of a local chamber of commerce, the Director of the Department of Health or a designee, the President of the RI Police Chief’s Association or a designee, a designee of the RI Attorney General, a member representing the medical marijuana patients of Rhode Island, an educator in Rhode Island, a mental health professional, a criminal defense attorney, and the President of the RI AFL-CIO.

The purpose of the commission would be to conduct a comprehensive review and make recommendations regarding marijuana and the effects of its use on the residents of Colorado and Washington to the extent available, and to study the fiscal impact to those states; and thereafter the potential impact on Rhode Island of legalized recreational marijuana.

The legislation’s cosponsors are Rep. Robert E. Craven (D-Dist. 32, North Kingstown), Rep. Raymond A. Hull (D-Dist. 6, Providence, North Providence), Rep. Julie A. Casimiro (D-Dist. 31, North Kingstown, Exeter), and Rep. Robert A. Nardolillo III (R-Dist. 28, Coventry).

The bill now heads to the Senate for consideration.

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