Ajello intros bill to legalize, tax, regulate marijuana

Feb 6, 2013

Sen. Donna Nesselbush on legalizing marijuana
Credit Photo by: Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

State lawmakers are trying once again to legalize marijuana. More on the proposal to regulate and tax the drug.

Providence-based Rep. Edith Ajello has introduced a bill that would make it legal to grow and possess a small amount of marijuana for personal use. It would also allow a system of wholesale and retail marijuana sellers to operate under tight regulations. Ajello says decriminalizing the possession of small amounts of marijuana, as Rhode Island has, hasn’t gone far enough to curb underage use.

“I think that our idea of regulating and taxing is the middle ground between prohibition, which isn’t working, and just allowing the sale.”

Ajello’s bill would also levy a tax of $50 an ounce on the wholesale of marijuana. Pawtucket Sen. Donna Nesselbush says she plans to introduce similar legislation on her side of the chamber.

Ajello says the house bill has garnered 19 supporters so far. And she and Nesselbush say the timing is better than it ever has been for this kind of legislation to pass, with other state and federal lawmakers considering similar bills.

Opponents, including former Rhode Island congressman Patrick Kennedy, say legalization sends the wrong message that marijuana is safe.

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