Letter from Co-chairs

Thousands of Rhode Islanders and their families have been negatively impacted by our policy of marijuana prohibition. Whether it’s a father struggling to find a job because he has a criminal record for a low-level marijuana offense or a high school student exposed to other drugs because he was recruited to sell marijuana in the illicit market, our current policy puts Rhode Islanders in harm’s way. 

There is a smarter, more responsible approach: tightly regulating marijuana. This policy will require marijuana to be sold in licensed businesses that check IDs, adhere to product safety standards, and pay taxes. By establishing a responsibly regulated market, we can stop the harms caused by prohibition and better protect public health and safety. 

States like Colorado and Washington are showing us that regulation works. Voters in eight states — including Massachusetts — have approved laws to legalize, control, and tax marijuana. Next year, stores will be open just across Rhode Island’s northern border. 

This report makes the case that 2017 is the year for Rhode Island to end the harmful policy of marijuana prohibition and join other states in enjoying the benefits of a regulated market. It also sheds light on what life after legalization looks like in places like Colorado and Washington since legal sales began in 2014. 

Our hope is that this report serves as a valuable resource to lawmakers and the general public as the discussion on this important issue continues. Now is the time to legalize, regulate, and tax marijuana.

James P. Crowley, MD
Andrew Horwitz, JD
James Vincent