RI Senate To Consider Loosening Marijuana Laws

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  RI Senate To Consider Loosening Marijuana Laws

Posted by CN Staff on December 25, 2009 at 12:05:13 PT
By Ray Henry, Associated Press Writer 
Source: Associated Press 

Providence, R.I. -- A Senate commission will soon explore whether Rhode Island should decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana and tax the drug, a path recently taken by neighboring Massachusetts.Commission members are exploring several questions that suggest an underlying skepticism with criminalizing marijuana, including whether existing prohibitions have decreased drug use, caused corruption among law enforcement officials and resulted in violence. The panel will present its findings early next year.
Commission member Nick Horton, a policy researcher for OpenDoors, which works to reintegrate criminal offenders into society, said presidential candidates have admitted using marijuana but people in his Providence neighborhood still get jailed for it.“That double standard does more harm than good to our justice system,” he said.Sen. Joshua Miller, D-Cranston, created the commission and serves as its chairman. He has not yet backed any specific changes to Rhode Island’s drug laws, but members will hear testimony about recent changes in Massachusetts.In November 2008, Bay State voters decided to make possession of an ounce or less of marijuana punishable by a $100 fine and confiscation of the drug rather than a crime carrying a maximum six-month prison sentence and $500 fine.The measure was approved over the objections of police and prosecutors in Massachusetts, who feared it would encourage use of what they consider more harmful drugs and interfere with their ability to prosecute traffickers who sometimes become suspects because of marijuana possession.Some cities and towns in Massachusetts have since created additional penalties to discourage marijuana use.Rhode Island lawmakers already have taken steps to legalize some marijuana use. In 2006, they started allowing patients who registered with the state to possess small amounts of marijuana if it’s used to relieve pain or chronic ailments.In June, the General Assembly expanded the medical marijuana program by authorizing up to three nonprofit stores to legally sell marijuana. State health officials still are determining how those stores will be licensed and regulated.Republican Gov. Don Carcieri and the State Police have opposed expansions of the medical marijuana system.Miller’s panel is required to examine the cost of prosecuting and jailing offenders, as well as considering the possibility of legalizing marijuana sales and imposing a tax of $35 per ounce or more.Financial arguments could be tempting since Rhode Island faces a $220 million budget deficit for the fiscal year ending in June, about 7 percent of what state authorities originally expected to collect. With unemployment hovering around 13 percent, the deficit is expected to grow larger in the coming year.“I think one of the things in order to be taken seriously is that there has to be a fiscal advantage, beyond other issues that are important,” Miller said.Source: Associated Press (Wire)Author: Ray Henry, Associated Press WriterPublished: Friday, December 25, 2009Copyright: 2009 The Associated PressCannabisNews -- Cannabis Archives

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Comment #3 posted by FoM on December 26, 2009 at 05:12:04 PT
Paint with light
Thank you for the link. I hope you had a nice holiday.
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Comment #2 posted by Paint with light on December 25, 2009 at 23:52:29 PT
Christmas Story a Happy and Merry Christmas and the day after to everyone.Legal like alcohol.
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Comment #1 posted by The GCW on December 25, 2009 at 12:59:06 PT

It's not simply law enforcement officials 
It's not just simply law enforcement officials who will oppose Loosening Marijuana Laws.It's their unions!The Senate commission will be in effect asking law enforcement official's unions if they want to give up a small percentage of their jobs.  Will the well being of America win over greed with this group?
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