Key Rhode Island lawmakers say they are nearing an agreement on a marijuana legalization bill that they plan to introduce within days. But one part of the deal might jeopardize support from the governor. Legislators have been in talks for months to reconcile competing legalization proposals that have been brought forward by the House, Senate, and governor’s office. Many issues have been resolved over the course of negotiations, but the question of who should be in charge of regulating the program—an existing agency or a newly created body—has been a sticking point. Lawmakers are now signaling that the best route to satisfy both sides would be to create a compromise approach where a state agency like the Department of Business Regulation (DBR) and a new independent cannabis commission would each play a role. House Speaker Joseph Sherkarchi (D) said in opening remarks at the start of the 2022 session on Tuesday that lawmakers have “spent months analyzing the complex issue of marijuana legalization.” “The House and Senate intend to soon have a draft of legislation ready, which will serve as a framework to begin a robust public hearing process,” he said. “We may not be the first state to legalize marijuana, but our goal is to do it in a way that is best for all of Rhode Islanders.” The speaker said in a recent interview with The Boston Globe that lawmakers “have come together on a framework that will probably be introduced in mid-January.” That will likely include a proposal to create a “hybrid model” for regulating the market. But Gov. Dan McKee (D), who proposed having DBR itself regulate the cannabis industry in legalization legislation he filed last year, hasn’t yet signed off on the hybrid idea, Rep. Scott Slater (D) told Marijuana Moment.
Kyle Jaeger, Marijuana Moment, 01/04/2022 15:52:00