View attachment 9459 The Rhode Island Senate has passed a resolution to establish the creation of a commission to study marijuana use. The commission, consisting of individuals from various professions and backgrounds, including doctors, social workers, and members of the public. The bill's lead sponsor, Joshua Miller, says he is, "...hoping to react to the best research and data we can get out of looking at it.'' The commission will be charged with examining several of the following questions:
"Whether and to what extent Rhode Island youth have access to marijuana despite current laws prohibiting its use...Whether adults' use of marijuana has decreased since marijuana became illegal in Rhode Island in 1918...Whether the current system of marijuana prohibition has created violence in the state of Rhode Island against users or among those who sell marijuana...Whether the proceeds from the sales of marijuana are funding organized crime, including drug cartels...Whether those who sell marijuana on the criminal market may also sell other drugs, thus increasing the chances that youth will use other illegal substances?''
View attachment 9460 The legislation also questions the "dangers associated with marijuana resulting from it being sold on the criminal market, including if it is ever contaminated or laced with other drugs.''
Senator Leo Blais submitted legislation to decriminalize marijuana this year called the "The Sensible State Marijuana Policy Act.'' It would decriminalize possession of less than one ounce, with violators being fined $100. The bill never made it out of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
The commission is supposed to have its results by January 31st, 2010. Once the study is completed, there would probably be legislation submitted by Senators Miller and/or Blais to decriminalize marijuana. Of course, Senator Miller claims he isn't hoping or expecting a particular outcome, but this seems disingenuous. Why would you form a commission to study a topic, unless you were strongly considering sponsoring legislation to address the subject of the study?
At any rate, Senator Miller's resolution is a good idea. The commission will be finished gathering information early in the 2010 session, and there will be plenty of time to debate the topic. Hopefully, decriminalization is debated, then sent to the floor of each chamber for a vote. Legislators may have more courage to support such a bill since Massachusetts decriminalized marijuana last year, but I doubt it. The bill will probably languish for years, while people are arrested for no good reason.
July 1, 10:34 PM - Damien Baldino