Rhode Island could study, delay legal marijuana debate

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP/WPRI) — Rhode Island lawmakers who aren’t ready to legalize marijuana might try to study it instead.

The House Judiciary Committee Tuesday approved a bill that would create a legislative commission to study the effects of legalizing pot for recreational use.

The 15-member commission would review how marijuana legalization has affected residents of states such as Colorado and Washington and how it’s affected fiscal conditions in those states. The group would report its recommendations back to Rhode Island legislators by March 2018.

Legalization proponents have been opposed to forming a commission, saying it would further delay taking action on legislation that’s been debated for seven years. They organized a Tuesday rally at the State House calling on legislative leaders to hold a vote this year on marijuana legalization.

“When three out of five voters support an issue, we think they should vote on that. When seven years of debate have gone by, it’s time for a vote. So that’s why we’re here today, to say it’s time to vote on marijuana legalization, most of the voters in the state want this, so we want to see the General Assembly move forward,” said Jared Moffat, director of Regulate Rhode Island.