Marijuana Legalization Bill Introduced in Rhode Island
Sen. Joshua Miller intends to introduce legislation today that draws upon the experiences of states where marijuana has been legalized to create a system to tax and regulate marijuana in Rhode Island.
While Senator Miller has introduced legislation with similar goals since 2014, this year the tax structure established in the bill mirrors that of Massachusetts, where recreational marijuana sales will become legal in July.
“Legal marijuana sales will be available to Rhode Islanders as soon as Massachusetts retailers start offering it in July. But Massachusetts will keep the revenue from their purchases when Rhode Islanders cross the border to get it. At that point, we will have just as many people using it, plus an unregulated, untaxed market in Rhode Island, with none of the money we would get for drug prevention and education programs, for law enforcement or for our general fund. We need this bill to give our state the resources to handle marijuana, rather than letting those resources stay in Massachusetts when our residents buy legal marijuana there and then use it here,” said Senator Miller (D-Dist. 28, Cranston, Providence).
The bill establishes a 10-percent tax on the marijuana on top of the state’s 7 percent sales tax, and up to a 3 percent optional local tax for a total between 17.75 and 20.75 percent tax on purchases, depending on whether the municipality where it is sold has enacted the local tax. In total, the taxes would be equal to the totals in Massachusetts.
The proceeds from the 10-percent marijuana tax would be distributed to the state’s general fund and various health and safety initiatives, with a disbursement formula that is similar to the ones used in Washington and Colorado. First, all funds necessary to provide for the expenses of implementation and