In a new poll conducted by Public Policy Polling, a record majority of Rhode Island voters favor legalizing marijuana and regulating it like alcohol. Of the 763 Rhode Island voters surveyed, 57% were in favor of marijuana legalization with only 35% opposing such a change in the state’s laws.
Some interesting takeaways from the poll:
- Similar percentage of women (56%) as men (57%) favor legalization
- LESS percentage of women (33%) oppose legalization than men (38%); the difference going to the “Not Sure” column. This would indicate that women may be more receptive to being informed and educated about cannabis and its benefits
- All races favor legalization than oppose with highest support in the African-American community (62% favor; 25% oppose)
- An overwhelming majority of those between the ages of 18 to 34 are in favor of legalization (73% favor; 15% oppose)
- Overall majority support for legalization in Rhode Island is due to democrats (65% favor; 26% oppose) and Independents (56% favor; 36% oppose); Republicans as a group oppose legalization (39% favor; 55% oppose)
Here are the questions asked and the results from the Rhode Island Marijuana Survey conducted by Public Policy Polling for Regulate Rhode Island:
Rhode Island Results
Q1 Since 2012, four states – Colorado, Washington, Alaska, and Oregon – have changed their laws to regulate and tax marijuana similarly to alcohol for legal use by adults who are 21 and older. Would you support or oppose changing Rhode Island law to regulate and tax marijuana similarly to alcohol?
- Support 57%
- Oppose 35%
- Not sure 8%
Q2 If you are a woman, press 1. If a man, press 2.
- Woman 53%
- Man 47%
Q3 If you are a Democrat, press 1. If a Republican, press 2. If an independent, press 3.
- Democrat 34%
- Republican 15%
- Independent 51%
Q4 If you are Latino, press 1. If white, press 2. If African American, press 3. If other, press 4.
- Latino 9%
- White 83%
- African American 6%
- Other 3%
Q5 If you are 18 to 34 years old, press 1. If you are 35 to 49, press 2. If you are 50 to 64, press 3. If you are 65 or older, press 4.
- 18 to 34 16%
- 35 to 49 29%
- 50 to 64 37%
- Older than 65 17%
- Phone 80%
- Internet 20%
Source: MPP.org Rhode Island Results
The Public Policy Polling survey was sponsored by “Regulate Rhode Island” which is a “coalition of citizens and organizations” supporting legalization through The Rhode Island Marijuana Regulation, Control, and Taxation Act (currently in Rhode Island’s General Assembly).
“From Cumberland to Narragansett, there is exceptionally strong support for ending marijuana prohibition in Rhode Island this year,” said Regulate Rhode Island Director Jared Moffat in the news release. “The Marijuana Regulation, Control, and Taxation Act creates a responsible alternative that proactively controls for public health concerns while allowing adults 21 and older the freedom to legally use marijuana if they choose. Taking the marijuana market above board will create taxpaying jobs and allow the state to tax the distribution and sale of marijuana.”
The details of the bill are summarized below.
The Rhode Island Marijuana Regulation, Control, and Taxation Act
Produced by Regulate Rhode Island
- The Marijuana Regulation, Control, and Taxation Act is sponsored by Rep. Edith Ajello and
Sen. Josh Miller.
- This legislation would replace Rhode Island’s prohibition on adult use of marijuana with a
system of taxation and regulation that is similar to the current system that regulates and taxes
- The Marijuana Regulation, Control, and Taxation Act would repeal criminal and civil penalties
for adults 21 and older who possess, use, obtain, purchase, or transport one ounce or less of
marijuana. Marijuana could only be sold by properly registered retailers.
- This legislation would also allow adults 21 and older to cultivate one mature marijuana plant.
Personal cultivation must be out of public view and in an enclosed, locked location.
- The Marijuana Regulation, Control, and Taxation Act, would not change the penalty for
individuals under the age of 21 found in possession of up to an ounce of marijuana. Those under
18 would be issued a civil citation for $150, have the marijuana confiscated, and would be
required to attend a state-approved drug and alcohol awareness program as well as complete
community service. Individuals between the ages of 18 and 21 would be issued a $150 fine and
also have the marijuana confiscated.
- The Department of Business Regulation would license and strictly regulate both marijuana
cultivators and retailers. The cultivators could only sell marijuana at wholesale to retailers and
other cultivators. Retailers could only sell marijuana to individual persons 21 years of age or older.
- The bills cap the total number of retailer registrations at 10 across the entire state.
- The total number of outstanding cultivator registrations is left uncapped. Initially, properly
licensed medical marijuana dispensaries will be issued cultivation registrations. The department
may issue additional registrations if demand necessitates it.
- The Marijuana Regulation, Control, and Taxation Act would also provide for licensing of safety
compliance centers that would test marijuana for potency and ensure it is not contaminated.
- Marijuana sold by retailers would have to be labeled for potency, including when it was
produced. A safety insert would have to be included, explaining methods for administering
marijuana, potential dangers of marijuana use, and how to recognize problematic marijuana usage.
- Cultivators, retailers, and safety compliance centers would be prohibited from operating within
1,000 feet of the property of any school or structure used for religious worship. Only adults 21
and older would be allowed in retail stores, which could not sell alcohol.
- The legislation imposes an excise tax of $50/ounce on all marijuana sold by cultivators.
Additionally, all retail sales would be subject to a 10% sales tax. After covering the costs of
regulation, half of the remaining tax revenue would go to the general fund, 40% would be used
for drug and alcohol education and treatment, and 10% would fund medical marijuana research.
- This proposal prohibits smoking marijuana in public and driving while impaired by marijuana.
With this type of statewide support to legalize marijuana, Rhode Island may be the first New England state to allow recreational marijuana.