With Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, and California now joining the ranks in America's "high" society, everyone's looking around the country to see who's next. If I were you, I'd place my bets on Rhode Island.
Recreational marijuana legalization has been on Rhode Island's doorstep for quite some time now. The state has had medical marijuana since 2006 but they haven't been able to go all the way and legalize the plant for recreational use. In fact, 2017 will be the seventh consecutive year a recreational bill has been proposed in this tiny state.
There are a few key differences that make 2017 different from all the other years, though.
A big factor pushing Rhode Island towards legalization comes from their neighbor, Massachusetts. Now that the state next-door has passed recreational legalization, many Rhode Island lawmakers want to act quickly so the state doesn't fall behind. They don't want Rhode Islanders to travel up north to Massachusetts to buy weed; they'd rather their citizens buy it right in their hometown so thy can benefit from the amazing tax revenue that will result.
Can you blame them? After everyone found out that Colorado topped $1 billion in sales in 2016, everyone turned their heads. What better way to boost state tax income than by legalization a plant that the majority of people want legalized anyway?
Another factor that's making 2017 look like it'll be the year is that Rhode Island finally has the legislative support to have a bill pass. Rhode Island state Senator Joshua Miller (D) and Rep. Scott Slater (D) are leading the charge for marijuana reform in the state and they believe they'd be able to pass a bill if presented to the General Assembly. They're ready to act and to act quickly before Massachusetts' legalization comes into full effect in 2018. Rep. Scott Slater went as far as to say, "We'll definitely be able to beat Massachusetts to the punch." Those are some pretty bold and exciting claims coming from the state's marijuana reform leader.
The state's opposition isn't just sitting around, though, either. Democratic Attorney General Peter Kilmartin is leading the charge against Slater and Miller by gathering support from psychiatrists, law enforcement, and lobbyists who all oppose reform. Unfortunately for the Attorney General, it looks like the opposition can't last much longer.
Did you know Massachusetts' medical marijuana revenues doubled in 2016?