Maine, Rhode Island Look To Decriminalize And Tax Marijuana

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Throughout the country, state governments are deciding whether to decriminalize marijuana, and they are looking at Connecticut\’s law as they craft their proposals.

\"\"Prior to July 2011, a person caught with less than half an ounce of marijuana in Connecticut was arrested. Now, people older than 21 who are caught with that amount of marijuana get tickets and $150 fines. People 21 and under get tickets and a 60-day driver\’s license suspensions.

Fines for subsequent offenses range from $200 to $500. Those who are caught three or more times are required to obtain drug counseling, and they must pay for the counseling themselves.

Rhode Island and Maine are the latest states to announce legislation that would decriminalize marijuana, and representatives from those states participated in a Marijuana Policy Project teleconference Thursday. 

Rhode Island has already passed a law that decriminalizes the possession of one ounce or less of marijuana. It goes into effect next spring, and, like in Connecticut, law breakers will also get a $150 fine.

That law, however, doesn\’t go far enough, said Rep. Edith Ajello, a  Democrat who chairs the Rhode Island legislature\’s judiciary committee.

Prohibiting marijuana use has not worked, and more adults and minors are using the drug, she said.

Ajello said she will introduce a bill in January that would both legalize and tax marijuana. She said she envisions marijuana purchases to be made like liquor purchases — at a store where sales can be regulated.

As part of her research, Ajello said she has looked at Connecticut\’s law. While helpful, Ajello said she is looking to take decriminalization a step further than Connecticut lawmakers did.

In Maine, Rep. Diana Russell, a Democrat, says she will reintroduce a bill she sponsored last legislative session. Like Ajello\’s bill, Russell\’s bill would also regulate and tax marijuana consumption. It would get marijuana off the black market, Russell said.

Both lawmakers are hopeful that their proposals will be supported by their legislative colleagues.

\”We\’re starting to see a dramatic culture shift across the board,\” Russell said of people\’s attitude about the decriminalization of marijuana.

Robert Capecchi, a legislative analyst for the Marijuana Policy Project, said he agrees.

There\’s very good support for changing marijuana laws, he said, explaining that a poll conducted last year by Gallup found 50 percent support for making marijuana legal. That support has continued to rise, he said.

The decriminalization of marijuana is different from the legalization of marijuana for medical purposes. Both Rhode Island and Maine already allow for medical marijuana use. Connecticut legalized medical marijuana on Oct. 1.


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7 thoughts on “Maine, Rhode Island Look To Decriminalize And Tax Marijuana

  1. Richard

    Excellent choice to own it and tax it. “Malloy’s Amsterdam Hash Bar” is just begging to be opened at Adrien’s Landing.

    Slots, Bongs, and Acid Jazz at the New Infinity at Adrien’s. What could be better for an aging diet conscious generation than a Foxwoods mini-Casino, a Hash Bar and DeadMaus wannabes warming up the crowd before David Crosby hits the stage? Some Ethiopian Coffee, a little Afghani hemp, and a chance to pick up some old blue hairs playing slots wth their dead husbands retirement money.

    Next up: Malloy’s Alien Cat House–where it’s Halloween all year long and the girls tested daily.

  2. Da Troof

    Lets not stop with marijuana. Crack to the kids I say! A meth lab in every town! Needles to the needy! Who’s with me?

    1. America Is Dying

      There already is Alcohol sold on every corner and it kills, injures, destroys lives and property more than any other drug in the world!

  3. john mccormack

    Great idea to tax marijuana.Equating meth and crack to marijuana is nonsense.I am 53 years old and seen many lives ruined by alcohol, prescription drugs and cigarettes.I have yet to see anyone die from overdosing on marijuana.

  4. jeff

    you 2 think your funny,but if you check states that have medical use of marijuana they have a lower teen rate of using a perfectly wonderful PLANT that benefits mankind.ct.should legalize it straight out,thousands of jobs and millions of dollars are at stake,stop the insanity,stop locking people up for a weed.

  5. Nick E. P.

    This article’s headline is misleading. Rhode Island isn’t looking to decriminalize pot – They’ve already done this, as the article states. They are looking to legalize pot, as the article also states.

    Decriminalizing pot = keeping it illegal but reducing the penalties (from arrest to ticket/fine)

    Legalizing = making it legal (no arrest, no fine/ticket).

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