Raimondo still restrained, but open, after Mass. approves marijuana

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — A Rhode Island, Massachusetts or even a Connecticut resident living or working near a state line might be passing in and out of states all day — and therefore, turning eligible or ineligible to use marijuana recreationally, and legally under the law, by going into Massachusetts.

Before Massachusetts voters approved that recreational use of the drug Tuesday night, Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo was well aware of the possibility that open, relaxed recreational use could become a lot more proximate.

Wednesday, Gov. Raimondo said legalization in Rhode Island is still under consideration. “My job is to keep people in Rhode Island safe — especially young people — and I’m going to take it slow and steady.” The Rhode Island State Police will need to be a part of the conversation, as well as teachers, health officials, “even employers,” she said. “I talk to a lot of employers every day — who say, many people they offer jobs to fail the drug test.”

As early as March, she stated she was open to a statewide vote. Bills to legalize were introduced to the General Assembly this year, but stalled.

“I’m taking a slower approach to make sure [that] if we do it, we get it right,” she said November 2. Then, as in March, she expressed concerns about children being exposed too easily to the substance through edible cannabis. A Massachusetts approval would prompt a “harder and faster” consideration, she said then.

Under the approved Massachusetts law, anyone 21 or older can purchase and consume one ounce or less of marijuana starting on December 15. Sales of the substance will be taxed 3.75 percent, in addition to the state’s 6.25 percent sales tax. But only stores dedicated to marijuana and marijuana accessories will be able to sell it — and those stores won’t be able to open until 2018. Further regulations are expected to be drafted in the interim.

Marijuana remains illegal to possess or use under federal law, officials at the Drug Enforcement Administration have asserted.