Rhode Island lawmaker: Legalize marijuana to reduce crime and weaken gangs
By Stephen C. Webster
Wednesday, February 13, 2013 9:26 EST
Following last years successful effort to decriminalize marijuana in Rhode Island, advocates in the state legislature now have their eyes on the biggest prize in drug reform: marijuana legalization.
Taxing and regulating the sale of marijuana will rob drug dealers of one of their reasons for being, state Senator Donna M. Nesselbush (D) said, according to The Valley Breeze newspaper in Rhode Island. It will likely reduce crime, weaken gangs and cartels and allow our hard-working law enforcement officials to focus on serious and/or violent crime. Taxing and regulating would also create the potential for much-needed state revenue that could be used for treatment and education about the consequences of drug use and the promise of healthful living.
Nesselbushs partner on the bill is state Rep. Edith Ajello (D), who introduced H5274, better known as the Marijuana Regulation, Control and Taxation Act, earlier this month, earning the praise of the Marijuana Policy Project, one of the nations leading drug reform advocacy groups.
The bill would allow individuals 21 and older to possess and cultivate limited amounts of marijuana, the group explained in a statement. It would also direct the department of revenue to license and regulate marijuana producers and retail marijuana stores. This sensible approach to marijuana would let law enforcement focus on more serious crimes.
The state is one of several that could potentially legalize marijuana following passage of historic voter-driven legalization initiatives in Colorado and Washington. A law signed by Gov. Lincon Chafee (R) in 2012, which takes effect on April 1, 2013, lowers penalties for adults caught with up to an ounce of marijuana to just a single $150 fine, similar to a traffic ticket. The new law will see about half of those revenues going into drug awareness and treatment programs for young people, according to The Providence Journal.
It is time for Rhode Island to put the failed policy of marijuana prohibition behind us and adopt a more sensible approach just as our nation did with alcohol 80 years ago, Rep. Ajello said. By keeping marijuana sales in the underground market, we are ensuring they will be uncontrolled and that those selling it are not asking for proof of age. Regulating marijuana like alcohol will take marijuana sales off the street and put them in the hands of legitimate businesses that would face real disincentives for selling to minors. These new businesses will also create jobs and generate much-needed new tax revenue.
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This post was modified from its original form on 13 Feb, 8:48
RI is a small state and it is a good place to start and see how successful or wrong this entire project will be. There is wide unemployment in RI and high drug abuse, so let's see how much this new law is successful.
I am being precautious, I will take wait and see and review the stats from states implementing this new law in my country, USA. I don't take stats from Portugal, Denmark with any credence.
I don't know who does their studies and I am very well aware that studies can be altered easily.
You have to really trust the validity of the people behind the studies.
RI, Colorado will be interesting as they put the laws into place at same time.
I'm happy to see you are willing to keep an open mind on this Sheila.
I never thought of smoking weed as so mind altering and destructive as it is made out to be.
I think cigarettes are for more harmful and alcohol far more debilitating than smoking a joint. People function fairly well while high and not so much while drunk.
To many tax dollars are wasted on prosecuting and imprisoning people for this offense.
Just my opinion of course...
Jim: I have said in other posts that vets with PTSD would be better off being treated with medical marijuana with therapy rather than the cocktail of anti-depressants which cause suicide ideation.
MJ does not cause suicide like these pharma psychiatric drugs do. It does calm people, that is a definite plus and it would be a better choice for many.
And people should not be incarcerated for MJ, it is a waste of tax dollars.