When it comes to legalizing marijuana, there are a lot of different things that tend to stand in the way – and for some states, that obstacle is the lack of ability for a citizen’s initiative to get legalization on a ballot. Unfortunately, that means these states must wait in hopes that their government will one day decide legalization is worth considering and hopefully implementing. Two states are waiting on a decision from lawmakers in this very situation – Vermont (who is having some trouble in the House) and Rhode Island, who has neglected to speak much on the issue at all.
A few weeks ago, it was announced that Rhode Island lawmakers would be hearing testimony on the subject of legalizing marijuana in hopes that they could come to a decision on the Marijuana Regulation, Control and Taxation Act that was introduced earlier this year. Since then, lawmakers haven’t made a peep about any progress on the bill, which is exactly what happened to every bill of this kind introduced in the past few years.
With recent polls showing that Rhode Island residents are 55% in favor of legalizing recreational marijuana, it seems like lawmakers are just trying to stall the inevitable. The Political Scene reached out all 113 members of the Senate and House of Representatives in the state in an effort to find out where they stand on the issue, in order to give us an idea of the bill’s chance at passing. Out of those 113 individuals, only 20 were willing to give a response on the record.
“Marijuana prohibition has been one of the great stains on our nation’s history and has negatively impacted so many people from a social-justice and public-health perspective,” Slater said.
When you break down the twenty that responded, there were eight people in support of the bill, eight who opposed it, and the remaining four were more or less undecided. Responses varied from the short and simple “I don’t know, maybe” to the much more thought out (but sometimes questionable) responses as to why they support or oppose the idea of statewide recreational marijuana.
“No. I’m not ready for ‘recreational’ marijuana legalization. There are too many unknowns regarding usage and its bedfellow — addiction [and] the long-term effects of usage especially on children of all ages,” said Gee, who added that he is the child of an “alcoholic family” and has witnessed “the destruction of addiction.”
There were also some who responded more on the fence than off it, realizing that whether or not marijuana legalization is something they personally agree with, it is something that will need to happen in the future: “whether you support legalization or not, the general consensus is that it will be legalized within 10 years.” – Solomon
At this rate, with so few willing to even publicly offer their opinion on the matter, it doesn’t appear that this bill is quite on the fast track that was initially expected for this year. However, the impending possibility that their neighboring state Maine will legalize recreational use in the election this November may weigh heavily on their decision to move forward. However, it also appears they may wait to see how Maine votes on the issue before deciding to take any action themselves.