Panel To Begin Research on Legalized MJ Funds
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Panel To Begin Research on Legalized MJ Funds
Posted by CN Staff on November 15, 2009 at 19:05:55 PT
By Katie Mulvaney, Journal Staff Writer 
Source: Providence Journal
Providence, R.I. -- The commission charged with exploring how much money the state could reap if it legalizes marijuana and taxes its sales will meet for the first time Wednesday.Lawmakers voted to create the nine-member panel in July, the day before the General Assembly began its summer recess. Its first meeting is slated for 3:30 p.m. in Room 212 of the State House.
The group intends to study issues surrounding the state’s position on marijuana, including money the state might make if it legalized it and enacted a $35 “sin tax” for purchases of an ounce or more.Other topics to be explored are the effects and costs of Rhode Island’s prohibition of the drug, except to sick people; whether adult use has increased since it was banned in 1918; whether its sales are financing drug cartels and fomenting violence; and its current availability to young people. The group will also look at how states and countries that have decriminalized the drug have fared.One of the first subjects the panel will examine is Massachusetts’ experience since voters there overwhelmingly approved a ballot measure in November 2008 that decriminalized possessing small amounts of marijuana. People caught with less than an ounce face a $100 civil fine, but not criminal charges.The group will gauge the effectiveness of that state’s policy and its impact on law enforcement and prison resources, said Sen. Joshua Miller, D-Cranston, one of five sponsors of the bill that created the commission.The panel also hopes to assess how marijuana use compares with alcohol, in terms of costs to society, he said. Miller, a restaurant and bar owner, has said he does not use illegal drugs and rarely drinks alcohol.The state’s stance on marijuana has evolved in recent years. The General Assembly gave final passage to a law in 2006 allows patients with debilitating medical conditions, such as cancer, HIV and multiple sclerosis, to possess up to 12 marijuana plants or the equivalent of 2.5 ounces of marijuana at any one time.In May, legislators overwhelmingly passed a bill that allowed state-regulated marijuana dispensaries, known as compassion centers, so patients wouldn’t be forced to grow or buy marijuana on the street.However, a bill that would have decriminalized marijuana possession in Rhode Island by imposing a civil fine on anyone caught with an ounce or less failed. Submitted by Leo R. Blais, R-Coventry, another sponsor of creating the study commission, never made it out of the Senate Judiciary Committee.Miller will be joined on the commission by: Glenn C. Loury, an economics professor at Brown University; Nick Horton, of OPENDOORS, formerly the Rhode Island Family Life Center; Donna Ploicastro, executive director of the Rhode Island Nurses Association; Dr. David C. Lewis, of Brown’s Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies; and Jeffrey Alan Miron, who teaches economics at Harvard University.It was unclear Sunday who the other three members are, but the group is supposed to include local police as well as advocates or patients of the state’s medical-marijuana program.The commission will meet at least three times before it is due to submit a report on Jan. 31, Miller said.Source: Providence Journal, The (RI)Author:   Katie Mulvaney, Journal Staff Writer Published: Monday, November 16, 2009Copyright: 2009 The Providence Journal CompanyContact: letters projo.comWebsite: -- Cannabis Archives 
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Comment #2 posted by Universer on November 15, 2009 at 23:35:45 PT
Caution and optimism.
I like that the questions are being asked. I like that they say they intend to take earnest looks at the cost of prohibition versus the liberty of regulation, the realistic assessment of cannabis as adult recreation in comparison with alcohol, et cetera.But I'm reticent to believe much would come of this because of who's on the panel. There will be prohibbies there -- police representatives, addiction experts, "family" advocates. These are unlikely to be friendly to the idea of regulating the Devil's Spice.At least the inquiries are being posed -- unless this is a ruse to give the appearance of frank openness, with a foregone conclusion that the prohibbies have always been right all along, and slap that joint right out of that cancer patient's mouth.But maybe I'm just being paranoid. ;-)
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Comment #1 posted by Paint with light on November 15, 2009 at 22:37:35 PT
More good news
It sounds like there are some good ideas here.I just think they should start the meeting fifty minutes later.Legal like alcohol, or better.
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