PROVIDENCE — With a stroke of a pen, Rhode Island on Wednesday joined its two neighboring states and 16 others in legalizing the recreational use of marijuana.
Less than 24 hours after lawmakers overwhelmingly passed the bill, Gov. Dan McKee signed the measure, which promises automatic expungement of past marijuana possession convictions and reserves a quarter of new retail store licenses for minority communities disproportionally hurt by the War on Drugs.
Speaking on the steps of the State House, awash in sunshine, McKee said the law was “equitable, controlled and safe” while establishing a regulatory framework that emphasizes public health and safety. “The end result is a win for our state both socially and economically.”
The law calls for retail sales beginning Dec. 1, but it will be a while before most of the stores are open.
The state’s three currently operating medical marijuana dispensaries will be the first retailers of recreational marijuana as well, followed by six others in various planning stages.
Who wins 24 other retail licenses, and when, will be up to a new three-member cannabis control commission that will be appointed by the governor.
Recreational marijuana will be taxed at 20% – a new 10% cannabis tax, a new 3% tax by the community where the marijuana is sold, and the current 7% sales tax. [Read More @ Providence Journal]