Lawmakers considering a hot-button proposal to legalize recreational marijuana in Rhode Island had one clear concern on their minds Tuesday night: What if Massachusetts beats us?
The General Assembly has grappled with the legalization question for five years. During a House Judiciary Committee hearing the familiar arguments were heard from proponents who say legalization will ensure marijuana is tested and safe to educators who warned of addiction and the impact on youth.
But for the first time, as lawmakers face imminent pressure from other New England states also toying with the idea of legal pot, they voiced concerns Rhode Island could get left behind. Massachusetts voters will likely see a binding referendum question on marijuana legalization on the ballot in November.
“If we fail to pass the legislation this year, Rhode Island will likely miss out on millions of dollars … . Businesses will set up along the [southern] border of Massachusetts and collect millions while we get nothing,” said Rep. Scott Slater, the Providence Democrat who sponsored the legalization bill. [Read more at the Providence Journal]