On February 12th legislation was introduced in Rhode Island that would legalize, tax and regulate marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol. Under the new bill persons age 21 years and up would be allowed to purchase marijuana from licensed and regulated businesses. If passed and signed by the Governor, the Marijuana Regulation, Control, and Taxation Act would put Rhode Island among the first few states who have chosen to end the prohibition of marijuana.
Marijuana prohibition is a waste of valuable law enforcement resources. If Rhode Island decides to tax and regulate marijuana it would free up hundreds of hours spent arresting, booking, and doing paperwork on non-violent offenders whose only crime was choosing a substance that is known to be safer than alcohol. Regulating marijuana will allow law enforcement to focus on more serious crimes and will lead to safer communities.
Marijuana prohibition is racially biased. According to a 2013 ACLU study, African-Americans in Rhode Island are 2.6 times more likely to be arrested for a marijuana related offense than drug users from other backgrounds. Being arrested and convicted of a marijuana related offense can lead to the loss of job opportunities and public housing, as well as the loss of access to higher education.
Regulation of marijuana will take control out of the hands of drug dealers and put it into the hands of responsible, tax-paying business owners. Additionally, taxing and regulating marijuana will create hundreds of new and well paying jobs and the taxes collected will number in the tens of millions of dollars.
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