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Rhode Island Lawmakers Near Marijuana Legalization Deal

A deal on a bill to legalize Cannabis in Rhode Island is finally coming together, legislative leaders said this week

Green Rush Daily

A deal on a bill to legalize Cannabis in Rhode Island is finally coming together, legislative leaders said this week, reports Marijuana Moment.

There are still issues to resolve such as which agency should regulate the likely lucrative market. But lawmakers have made significant progress and have reached compromises on a number of topics, said Sen. Josh Miller, Democratic sponsor of one legalization proposal.

Miller warned he couldn’t be specific on details, given ongoing negotiations, but he is optimistic that an agreement is near.

How Many Cannabis Business Licenses?

The group is nearing consensus on the number of Cannabis business licenses. Miller’s bill, approved by the Senate earlier this year, proposed as many as 150 cannabis shops. But Democratic Gov. Dan McKee’s plan called for 25 and Democratic Rep. Scott Slater wanted just 15 in his separate House bill.

“We’re probably down to more in the 30, 40 range,” Miller said. Miller admitted he had to “dodge and weave” around reporters’ questions due to the ongoing negotiations, reports Ganjapreneur.

The group has studied New York’s new legal marijuana structure as a possible model, reports WPRI.

Consensus On Expungement; Moratorium On Additional Growing

Miller said all parties in the negotiations have agreed to include expungement of specific Cannabis crimes in any legislation. Social equity provisions are also likely.

The group agreed to a temporary moratorium on additional cultivation. This moratorium will last until the market can be evaluated, Miller said. He said dozens of Cannabis growers are already licensed in the state.

Licensed cultivators have strongly lobbied against allowing more cultivation, since existing businesses currently have very few options to legally sell their product.

Rhode Island Governor Supports Adult-Use Legalization

“As you know the governor supports recreational cannabis and his team has been actively working with our partners in the General Assembly on a bill that is equitable and benefits Rhode Island,” said Gov. Dan McKee’s press secretary, Alana O’Hare.

But O’Hare declined to comment on the details of the negotiations.

Larry Berman, a spokesperson for House Speaker Joe Shekarchi, confirmed leaders are looking at New York’s new law. But he said they’re also studying other states such as Massachusetts and Connecticut.

Rhode Island currently regulates medical marijuana through the Department of Business Regulation.

Previous House, Senate and McKee versions of cannabis bills all proposed to tax the herb at about 20%. The differences mainly lie in how revenue will be split up between municipalities and the state.

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