Rhode Island hedging its bets as Mass. considers recreational marijuana

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Question 4, which would approve the taxing and sale of marijuana — instead of keeping it on the list of illegal drugs — is going before Massachusetts voters next Tuesday. But the results are expected to have an impact in Rhode Island as well.

“I’m taking a slower approach to make sure [that] if we do it, we get it right,” Gov. Gina Raimondo told Eyewitness News on Wednesday. If Massachusetts okays it, she told the Providence Journal this week, “we have to look at it harder and faster.”

But there are several issues still to consider, she said. “If we legalize too quickly and without the right regulation, I worry about children, I worry about high schoolers, I worry about edibles.”

Legalization of recreational marijuana is ahead in most polls. But last weekend, a campaign finance report revealed the Archdiocese of Boston gave $850,000 to a group opposing Massachusetts Question 4. That equals a 50-percent increase on the group’s previous campaign war chest.

In Rhode Island, medical marijuana is already legal, and in this year’s budget, Gov. Raimondo increased oversight of the program. She told the Journal the reforms were partly intended to bring us one step closer to being ready for legalization — if it ever happened in the Ocean State.

“I’m more interested in getting it right, than to rush,” she said.

Bills to legalize marijuana in Rhode Island have come before the General Assembly the last few years without being voted on. A spokesperson for House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello said Wednesday the Speaker has not been in favor of legalizing marijuana for recreational use in the past, but said he is monitoring the vote in Massachusetts.