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RI Governor to propose legalization of recreational pot


PROVIDENCE, R.I.  — Gov. Gina Raimondo will propose within the next week that Rhode Island legalize the sale of marijuana for recreational use, she said.

The state is facing the “inevitable” prospect of being encircled by states that have legalized recreational marijuana, she said.

“I will say, I do this with reluctance,” the Democrat told the Democrat told The Providence Journal for a story published Sunday. “I have resisted this for the four years I’ve been governor. … Now, however, things have changed, mainly because all of our neighbors are moving forward” with legalization.

The first recreational pot shops opened in Massachusetts late last year, and Connecticut, New York and New Jersey are considering legalization.

Her proposal, included in her budget plan for the fiscal year beginning July 1, would create one of the most regulated recreational pot industries in the country, the governor said. She wants to reduce what she says are the health and safety problems experienced in some of the 10 other states that have approved recreational use.

In addition, she wants to prohibit people from growing recreational pot at home, and to ban concentrated resins and other high-potency products from store shelves.

The proposal would also require that single servings of pot edibles including gummies, brownies or cookies contain no more than 5 milligrams of THC, the psychotropic compound in marijuana.

If her proposal is approved by lawmakers, the first recreational stores could open by January 2020. Rhode Island approved the use of medical marijuana in 2007.

Her budget proposal calls for spending about $3.5 million to get the recreational business up and running.

Recreational pot would be taxed at about 17 percent.

Previous efforts to legalize recreational use of marijuana have stalled in the legislature.

Raimondo said she had already briefed legislative leaders about her plan.

“I suspect at the end of the day they will probably come to the same conclusion that I have, which is: It’s here, it’s inevitable, so let’s do it right.”

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