The issue of marijuana legalization won’t be be taken up by Rhode Island lawmakers until this summer or fall, a top lawmaker said this week.
The latest piece of cannabis reform legislation was filed just two weeks ago. Upon its introduction, sources familiar with the situation told Marijuana Moment that because time is running out before lawmakers typically break for the summer after completing the budget, they expected the legislature to reconvene in September to tackle the issue.
Now, House Speaker Joseph Shekarchi (D) is confirming that’s a possibility.
“Marijuana legalization will not be decided until after the budget is adopted this month,” Shekarchi told WPRI-TV on Wednesday. “It is possible we will return sometime in the summer or fall.”
Rep. Scott Slater (D) is the sponsor of the newest legalization bill, which is separate from reform proposals that have been filed by the governor and Senate leaders. The speaker said “out of respect for [Slater’s] hard work on this issue, we will be holding a hearing,” though that has not yet been scheduled.
“There is no consensus yet on the very different proposals from Rep. Slater, the Senate and the governor, and many other advocates have also weighed in with their ideas,” he said.
Gov. Daniel McKee (D) also weighed in on the legalization debate during a briefing last week, saying that he’s “very comfortable” with the proposal his office put forward in March as part of his budget request. That said, he raised questions about whether any of the competing proposals can advance within the next few weeks.
“I know conversations are going on right now, but you’re seeing multiple versions develop very late in the session, so I wouldn’t be surprised if this is something that gets carried over maybe to a fall session,”