RI: Recreational Marijuana Legalization Takes A Blow With Commission Recommendation Delay

Photo Credit: Randall Benton

A commission that includes lawmakers, medical marijuana patients, clinicians and law enforcement will not release its findings this year on whether or not the state of Rhode Island should legalize recreational marijuana.

The commission has met four times since October and was expected to release its recommendation to lawmakers on March 1.

Larry Berman, spokesman for House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello, said there are bills in the House and Senate to extend the work of the commission.

According to Berman, House Bill 7529 is expected to be on the floor next Wednesday.

If approved, the measure would allow the commission to “continue its work and issue a report by February of next year.”

While few if any on Smith Hill expected recreational marijuana to be legalized this session, Berman said the missed March 1 deadline does not officially kill legalization, which he said theoretically could still be passed this year.

“Yes, in theory,” Berman said. “But it looks like the commission’s work will continue into next year.”

Proponents of legalization have claimed the commission was set up to stall legalization.

Commission member state Sen. Josh Miller has proposed legalizing recreational use in the past.

The Senate bill that created the commission was sponsored by Sen. Cynthia Coyne, a retired state police officer who is on the commission. Coyne has expressed concern over the impact legalization could have on public health and safety.

Nicholas Kettle – the now former state senator who avoided expulsion from the senate by resigning last week after he was charged in two sex-related criminal cases – was also one of the lawmakers on the commission.