A bill was proposed this week in Rhode Island that would allow voters to choose YES or NO to a ballot measure asking if you support the legalization and possession of marijuana. The only problem is that unlike most states, Rhode Island's ballot measures do not create law if voters say YES, it just lets lawmakers know what the voters want. At least 8 other states are also considering ballot questions on cannabis legalization including Illinois, Oklahoma, Michigan, Utah, and Missouri. Rhode Island's neighbor Massachusetts will begin recreational sales this summer and Connecticut filed a bill to plan the regulation and legalization of cannabis this week. Advocates of cannabis in Rhode Island say they think voters will say YES, but wonder why legislators are waiting for that when it's clear that recreational cannabis will be accessible in all directions for Rhode Islanders soon anyways.
"While we are confident that a referendum would be approved by Rhode Island voters, we once again call on the General Assembly to pass legislation this year that legalizes marijuana possession for adults and begins the process of establishing a system for regulating and taxing the sale of marijuana," Matthew Schweich, the executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project, said in an interview. "The longer Rhode Island waits, the more tax revenue goes to Massachusetts. Maintaining prohibition in Rhode Island will do nothing to limit the availability of marijuana to its residents other than increasing the amount of time it takes to drive to a legal dispensary."