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Rhode Island, the second New England state to permit the sale of medical marijuana, opened its first dispensary on Friday.
Located on in Providence, the Thomas C. Slater Compassion Center will initially sell marijuana cultivated by growers participating in the state’s medical marijuana program; however, it plans to begin growing its own medicine to sell as soon as possible.
The state will likely add more dispensaries in the coming months in Warwick and Portsmouth.
As of yesterday, April 1, 2013, possession of up to an ounce of marijuana is no longer subject to an arrest, a criminal charge, or the threat of jail time under Rhode Island law! Thanks to legislation sponsored by Sen. Josh Miller and Rep. John “Jay” Edwards and signed into law by Gov. Lincoln Chafee, individuals found in possession of up to an ounce of marijuana will now be given a civil citation of $ 150. Those under 18 will also have their parents notified and will be required to attend an alcohol and drug education course and perform community service. Third and subsequent violations within 18 months are still grounds for a misdemeanor.
This MPP-led effort is yet another step towards rational marijuana policy. Until marijuana is regulated and taxed similarly to alcohol, sales will remain uncontrolled, and they will continue to prop up drug cartels instead of legitimate Rhode Island businesses. Repealing criminal penalties for marijuana possession slows the bleeding, but repealing marijuana prohibition will heal the wound.
If you are a Rhode Island resident, please email your lawmakers and urge them to support the Marijuana Regulation, Control, and Taxation Act.
BOSTON (Reuters) – A Rhode Island city has dropped its case against a woman who was fined $ 15 for violating a noise ordinance after her pet cockatoo allegedly swore at her ex-husband’s girlfriend, who lived with him next door, a lawyer said on Wednesday.
Warwick Municipal Court fined Lynne Taylor in September following a series of complaints from the neighbor over noise from the parrot and other offenses, said Taylor’s lawyer, Stephen Peltier.
The bird allegedly used salty language to refer to the neighbor, but Peltier said the bird was merely saying “knock it off,” and that the noise ordinance was unconstitutional because it was highly subjective and intended for cases of dog-barking.
Taylor’s former husband had given her the bird before they divorced and he moved into a neighboring house, Peltier said. His girlfriend began complaining to police after she moved into the house and the dispute escalated over a period of months in 2011, the attorney added.
Taylor appealed the decision, and on Friday the City of Warwick dropped the case, he said.
“We were prepared to fight this right on through the Supreme Court, and Warwick decided they were not going to fight it,” Peltier said.
Police told a local television station, WJAR, it was in the best interest of justice to drop the case instead of using city resources to enforce the fine. A Warwick police officer involved in the case was not available for comment.
The ordinance says any dog, animal or fowl that habitually barks, howls or makes noise and disturbs a neighbor may be deemed a public nuisance, according to Peltier.
(Editing by Scott Malone; Editing by David Gregorio)
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The Rhode Island House Judiciary Committee convened this evening to take testimony on H 5274, the Marijuana Regulation, Control, and Taxation Act. This bill, sponsored by Rep. Edith Ajello, would end Rhode Island’s marijuana prohibition, replacing it with a system in which marijuana is taxed, regulated, and sold in a manner similar to alcohol. This is now the third session in a row that the Marijuana Policy Project has teamed with legislative champions like House Judiciary Chair Edith Ajello, community advocates, and allied policy organizations to make the case that marijuana should be regulated like alcohol, a far more dangerous substance. And for the third year in a row, I was so honored to be in Providence to participate.
Study after study shows that marijuana is objectively less harmful than alcohol, both for the consumer and the community. For instance, alcohol use is a major factor in many violent crimes and risk of injury to the user; the same is not true for marijuana use. It makes little sense to punish adults who choose to use the safer substance.
Where prohibition fails at prevention of use and abuse, it succeeds at enriching and empowering criminals and cartels. Whether we like it or not, marijuana is and, for decades has been, an in-demand commodity. By prohibiting marijuana, Rhode Island gift-wraps a lucrative, tax-free market to criminal enterprises and drug gangs, putting consumers at risk by exposing them to these harmful people. Since marijuana is illegal, the individuals and organizations that illegally profit are unable to rely on our judicial system to step in and resolve business disputes. This often leads to violence that affects not just the criminals, but our broader communities as well.
Residents of Rhode Island explained how prohibiting marijuana starves Rhode Island of potential tax revenue that could be used to fund vital projects. Marijuana prohibition fails spectacularly at preventing use, but it succeeds in making sure our state and local governments are prevented from collecting revenue off sales. Ending the prohibition will allow Rhode Island to collect sales tax on the purchase of marijuana by adults 21 and older. The particular bill in question also imposes an excise tax of $ 50 an ounce at the wholesale level. This is real money that Rhode Island can use for good and necessary programs. For instance, under the provisions of the bill, 40% of revenue raised from marijuana sales will go to fund programs for the treatment of alcohol and drug abuse.
Committee members also heard from concerned parents and grandparents about the need to start treating marijuana use for what it is: a matter of public health, not public safety. Rhode Islanders don’t want their children to use marijuana, and we agree with them. But Rhode Islanders also know that marijuana prohibition creates an environment that puts their children at a greater risk than marijuana as a substance ever could. It’s true that we can’t prevent all instances of youth use in Rhode Island, but we can and should address the harms associated with use under prohibition. Prohibition ensures that individuals who have no qualms about breaking the law monopolize the market. Naturally, some of these individuals will have other more harmful drugs available. Regulations ensure that marijuana, and only marijuana, is sold by accountable businesses who card before sales.
We’ve tried prohibition, and it’s failed. No matter how much marijuana law enforcement confiscates, no matter how many individuals they lock up for selling marijuana, and no matter how many users they cite for possession, supply and demand remain. There are many, many reasons to support ending marijuana prohibition, but really no good reason to keep it around. Despite the logic, it will still take time and patience before we can replace prohibition with a system that allows responsible adults to choose to use marijuana in private. Many, many, thanks are in order for Rebecca McGoldrick, Michelle McKenzie, Hillary Davis, Jared Moffat, Beth Comery, and everyone else from the Coalition for Marijuana Regulation who showed up in support. Special thanks to our legislative champion, Chair Ajello, as well as to Minority Leader Newberry and all of their supportive colleagues in the House. What a day!
The news blog GoLocalProv just ranked the bills being considered in the Rhode Island General Assembly as the “most likely to have a swift and immediate impact on residents throughout the Ocean State and the ones most likely to take up the majority of the General Assembly’s time.”
Naturally, the Marijuana Regulation, Control, and Taxation Act, or H 5274, came in at Number 2 on the list!
Mason Tvert, director of communications for the Marijuana Policy Project, the nation’s largest marijuana policy organization, said legalizing marijuana has been met with “more public support than ever before,” and praised Rhode Island for considering the measure.
“Most Americans are fed up with laws that punish adults simply for using a product that is objectively less harmful than alcohol,” he said earlier this month. “The bill introduced in Rhode Island presents a smarter, more responsible approach to marijuana.”
State Senator Donna Nesselbush, meanwhile, said she intends on introducing the measure in the Senate.
“Taxing and regulating the sale of marijuana will rob drug dealers of one of their reasons for being,” she said. “Taxing and regulating would also create the potential for much-needed state revenue that could be used for treatment and education about the consequences of drug use and the promise of healthful living.”
There will be a hearing on this bill Wednesday before the House Judiciary Committee at the State House in Providence, featuring House sponsor Rep. Edith Ajello and MPP’s Robert Capecchi, in addition to representatives of the Coalition for Marijuana Regulation.
If (and ONLY if, please!) you are a Rhode Island resident and would like to help end marijuana prohibition in the Ocean State, please contact your legislators and ask them to support H 5274, the Marijuana Regulation, Control, and Taxation Act.