Former Gov. Gina Raimondo tried, and failed, to get legalization passed by budget, as Cannabis Wire previously reported. Gov. Dan McKee is expected, according to the Providence Journal, to include legalization in his budget that is due by Thursday.
But lawmakers aren’t waiting. On Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Michael J. McCaffrey and Senator Joshua Miller unveiled the Cannabis Authorization, Regulation and Taxation Act, or CART Act, to legalize cannabis use and sales for adults 21 and older.
“Over the years,” Senator Josh Miller, who also chairs the Senate Committee on Health and Human Services, said in a statement, “we have all learned from the experiences in other states. The approach we are taking is not just about tax revenue. It’s about rectifying past wrongs and opening new opportunities. And it’s about smarter drug policy. Prohibition clearly didn’t work, and is next to impossible with the availability [of] legal cannabis just over the state border. I’m excited to be introducing this legislation today and look forward to the hearing process.”
The bill would allow adults to purchase and possess one ounce of cannabis and to grow 12 plants (6 flowering) at home, which, as Miller recently told Cannabis Wire, is modeled after Massachusetts. A newly-created Cannabis Control Commission would regulate the industry, and would issue licenses for cultivation, manufacture, testing, and retail, while limiting the number of licenses that a single entity can hold to one. The fees associated with licenses would go toward creating a “social equity assistance fund.”
Cannabis sales would see a total 20% tax, which includes a special tax of 10% and a local tax of 3% in addition to the regular state sales tax of 7%. Localities can opt out of allowing for sales, via referendum.
“We want to provide cities and towns with the ability to opt-out, but we cannot allow an overly burdensome patchwork of regulation throughout our state,” McCaffrey said in a statement. “We know from experiences in other states that less parochialism and lower fees leads to greater transparency and a more competitive market. If a community wants to opt-out and forgo tax revenue that is one thing, but we also need to make sure the process is open and transparent.”