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R.I. Lawmakers Contemplate Legalizing Marijuana

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Rhode Island’s General Assembly has commissioned a panel to study the issue of marijuana legalization, the Providence Journal reported July 2.

The nine-member Special Senate Commission to Study the Prohibition of Marijuana will be comprised of “elected members of the Rhode Island Senate, local law enforcement officials, physicians, nurses, social workers, academic leaders in the field of addiction studies, advocates or patients in the state’s medical marijuana program, advocates working in the field of prisoner reentry, economists, and members of the general public.”

The panel will explore such questions as how much tax revenue the state would receive if marijuana was legalized and taxed at a rate of $35 per ounce. Members also will look at the experiences of other nations and states that have legalized the drug, youth access to marijuana, and the relationship between marijuana use and crime.

Sponsor Sen. Joshua Miller (D-Cranston) said the study was prompted in part by Massachusetts’ recent voter-driven decriminalization of minor marijuana possession and “a national trend towards decriminalization.”

The panel is due to report back to the state Senate by Jan. 31, 2010.

Rhode Island lawmakers also recently legalized the sale of marijuana to medical users.

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