In terms of legalization, the East has some catching up to do with the West. 8 states have legalized recreational marijuana – Oregon, Nevada, California, Washington, Colorado, Alaska, Massachusetts and Maine. But it is expected that 2018 is going to see a number of East Coast states pushing for legalization. This is a natural occurrence. In states bordering others where one has recognized recreational weed, then a decision needs to be made on the issue. Because otherwise one state is going to lose considerable revenue to the other, and people will flock to the marijuana friendly state, as well as businesses. Soit is possible that we could see a trend of legalization in the East Coast soon, as a domino effect is started and other states get “jealous” of Massachusetts. The first to market has a huge advantage, so whichever state that is savvy enough to implement a working weed model as soon as possible will see tremendous benefits and be ahead of the game come 2018.
Rhode Island Legalization
Rhode Island could be the next state to see recreational marijuana. What’s more, lawmakers have actually said that they intend to get recreational marijuana in place before their neighbors in Massachusetts. Massachusetts is expecting to open the doors of its recreational weed outlets by July 1st, 2018. Legislators in Rhode Island need to get moving quickly if they intend to do this. Because it is a smaller and more integrated state, legislation may get passed quicker without getting completely stuck in the wheels of bureaucracy. Massachusetts have delayed the initial date of recreational sales, something that is being done in many states. Simply put, most states are not going to be ready in time for recreational legalization. And not only states, Canadians might well see their date of July the first 2018 pushed back as well, as much needs to be done.
Democratic state Senator Joshua Miller has sponsored legislation to legalize recreational marijuana in Rhode Island. He has stated that he is concerned Rhode Island will miss out on tax revenue and economic development from allowing sales should the state wait too long. Residents might get used to buying marijuana in Massachusetts. He said he’d like to craft new legislation to legalize and tax recreational marijuana based on the commission’s findings. It is strange and a little bit tragic that the implementation of marijuana is by and large occurring not because of the lives that it will save and the comfort and wellbeing it will grant to people, but because a failure to legislate would result in a less revenue.
And there is obviously opposition to legalizing marijuana in the state of Rhode Island, just like everywhere else. The stigma and mythology ingrained in the public with regard to the use of cannabis is legendary. According to Democrat representative Dennis Canario:
“Is there really a benefit to this besides giving the green light to someone to go out and get high? Are the positives going to outweigh the negatives? I don’t know…The commission is so important, to get the answers to these questions.”
The answers are already there. Marijuana has been proven effective in the treatment of many of the most serious conditions known to mankind. It has practically no side effects. It reduces addiction to opioids, an epidemic which some estimate to be killing 30,000 people a year. Stoned driving has been proven safer than drunk driving. States which legalized marijuana have all seen a reduction in road fatalities and road accidents. Opening medical marijuana dispensaries leads to a reduction in crime in the surrounding neighborhood, and when the dispensaries close the crime rates rise. And marijuana, lastly, is a $50 billion dollar industry at present. In other words, it is a safe bet that the positives outweigh the negatives. Because there is are no real negatives, aside from possible pollution to the environment if rules and regulations are not put into place. And, if people want to be given a green light to go and get high, what, exactly, is the problem with that as long as they are causing no disturbances?
The East Coast Situation
Delay seems to be a prominent feature in many East Coast states when it comes to the implementation of marijuana. In Maine, lawmakers have delayed marijuana sales until February 2018, and Republican Governor Paul LePage wants to delay sales until 2019 in the state.Vermont’s legislature approved the use of recreational marijuana this year, but the bill was vetoed by Republican Governor Phil Scott. Scott stated that he wanted to know the best way to ensure highway safety, protect young people from possible health effects and tax and regulate marijuana. Massachusetts is unlikely to meet its July 2018 deadline. The 19 people who make up the Rhode Island Marijuana Commission are meeting up again on the Seventh of November to discuss the matter. It will be impressive if they can get recreational marijuana in action before July 2018, but given the previous history what is likely to happen is a high tax, highly regulated form of marijuana that benefits a few. Until lawmakers can establish such a bill, delays will be inevitable, as can be seen from the situation in Maine.