The Senate today approved legislation sponsored by Sen. Cynthia A. Coyne to create a 19-member joint legislative commission to study the effects of legalizing recreational marijuana use.
The bill (2017-S 0277A) now goes to the House, which has already approved identical legislation (2017-H 5551A) sponsored by Rep. Dennis M. Canario’s (D-Dist. 71, Portsmouth, Little Compton, Tiverton).
“Based on my experience as a retired State Police lieutenant and a mom of four children, I understand that legalization of marijuana for recreational use could have serious public safety, public health and societal ramifications. It is imperative that we thoughtfully consider the unintended consequences and take notice from lessons learned in Colorado and Washington. We should take full advantage of other states’ experiences and learn about whether we should follow in their footsteps or perhaps take a different approach to avoid any problems they may have encountered,” said Senator Coyne (D-Dist. 32, Barrington, Bristol, East Providence).
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 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 legislation is cosponsored by Sen. James A. Seveney (D-Dist. 11, Portsmouth, Bristol, Tiverton), Sen. Harold M. Metts (D-Dist. 6, Providence), Sen. Louis P. DiPalma (D-Dist. 12, Middletown, Little Compton, Newport, Tiverton) and Sen. V. Susan Sosnowski (D-Dist. 37, South Kingstown, New Shoreham).