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Thursday, April 14, 2016

Time for the General Assembly to act

By Steve Ahlquist in Rhode Island’s Future

2016-04-12 Regulate RIRegulate RI, a coalition working to tax and regulate the sale of marijuana in the state, yesterday made the business case for the idea, ahead the House Judiciary Committee taking public testimony on the bill.

Ray White, chief operating officer of the Thomas C Slater Compassion Center said that he has 60 employees at his business selling medical marijuana. If recreational marijuana were to become legal, he sees the opportunity to employ many more people.

In addition to retail outlets there is the opportunity for marijuana and hemp related research. 

Austin Davis and Spencer Blier both made the case for Rhode Island being an east coast leader in developing new products, including hemp ropes and boat sails. Along with the development of new products say these entrepreneurs, comes more jobs and more economic growth.

Fred Joyal, who developed and sold a successful business in California, is originally from Rhode Island and is looking to move back here. He is looking for investment opportunities, and feels that Rhode Island could be a leader, but only if our legislature chooses to move before Massachusetts passes similar tax and regulate legislation as a ballot initiative.

This relates to the first mover argument. The first state in New England to tax and regulate marijuana will have a terrific advantage in terms of money to be made from taxes and job creation. 

If Massachusetts beats Rhode Island to the punch, RI natives will cross the border, sending money and jobs out of state. Meanwhile, any Rhode Islanders who bring the products they buy legally in Massachusetts back to our state risk arrest, costing our state money in terms of policing and court costs.

Steve Ahlquist is an award-winning journalist, writer, artist and founding member of the Humanists of Rhode Island, a non-profit group dedicated to reason, compassion, optimism, courage and action. The views expressed are his own and not necessarily those of any organization of which he is a member. and Twitter: @SteveAhlquist