PROVIDENCE, RI ( Associated Press) — Rhode Island lawmakers on Tuesday unveiled changes to a bill to legalize and regulate recreational marijuana, amendments intended to ensure the law passes the state’s General Assembly.
The amended bill was released on Tuesday ahead of the committee’s vote on Wednesday. Voting is expected next week in both the House and Senate.
The bill now provides for the automatic eviction of any prior conviction for possession of cannabis, which would be acquitted of an offense by law, without requiring a person to file a request, pay a fee, or be heard. The evictions will take place until July 1, 2024, offering an expedited process for anyone who wishes to have their record removed as soon as possible. In the original bill, a request for removal had to be made.
The start date for the recreational sale was extended from October 1 to December 1. The amended bill would eliminate current fees charged to patients and caregivers for registration in the state’s medical marijuana program.
Lawmakers also changed how people would be appointed to the commission that would oversee the industry, to address concerns raised by the governor about the separation of powers.
“The amended bill is a collaborative effort to protect medical use, ensure fair governance, and recognize that we cannot make this change without taking action to punish entire communities and individuals under prohibition,” said Democratic Sen. ” Joshua Miller, who is leading the legalization effort in the Senate, in a statement.
The bill proposes to legalize the sale and possession of up to 1 ounce of cannabis for adults aged 21 and above, with no more than 10 ounces to be kept at a person’s home for personal use. It would also allow residents to grow a small amount at home.
The amended bill puts a proposed 10% state cannabis excise tax, which would be in addition to a 7% sales tax and a 3% local tax for the municipality where the sale takes place. The number of cannabis retailers that will be allowed in Rhode Island is at 33, the same as the original offer.