Leaders in the Rhode Island House and Senate say they are very close to reintroducing legislation to legalize adult-use cannabis in the state, and that the issue has the support it needs to cross the finish line next year.
“We’re very close to being able to, in the month of January, release the framework of a bill that will begin a robust public hearing and vetting process,” House Speaker K. Joseph Sherkarchi (D-Warwick) told Providence Business News.
Senate Majority Leader Michael McCaffrey (D-Warwick) told the news outlet that lawmakers plan to introduce the legislation early in the 2022 legislative session and get a vote in both chambers by February.
“Once it goes through the hearing process, I think that it will pass in both chambers overwhelmingly,” McCaffrey told Providence Business News.
In early 2021, Rhode Island lawmakers unveiled a pair of adult-use cannabis legalization proposals, which both ultimately stalled.
McCaffrey and his Democratic colleague Sen. Joshua Miller introduced Senate Bill 568, while Gov. Dan McKee included an adult-use legalization proposal in his fiscal 2022 budget.
S.B. 568 cleared the Rhode Island Senate in June before it died in the House, and McKee’s adult-use legalization plan did not survive the budget process.
Legislative leadership and the McKee administration then spent the summer and fall negotiating various aspects of legalization, Providence Business News reported, including social equity, the expungement of criminal records, and how the industry would be regulated.
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“The Senate wants to have a separate independent commission to regulate the cannabis industry,” McCaffrey told the news outlet. “We have been working with the House on some language that hopefully everyone can live with.”
The Rhode Island Legislature convenes Jan. 4 for the 2022 legislative session.