One of the most publicized and contentious aspects of Governor Raimondo’s proposed FY 2020 budget was the legalization of adult-use recreational marijuana. The ACLU supports the legalization of marijuana in principle, but we also took a deep dive into the full 128-page proposed Article. We echoed concerns from the medical marijuana community who wished to see the medicinal and recreational forms of the drug sold and marketed separately, so that those who rely on it for medicinal purposes have consistent, reliable access in a supportive facility.

We additionally raised questions regarding the heavy handed distribution of fines and penalties for potentially minor infractions, the lack of any employment protections for marijuana users, and criminal record restrictions on entering the marijuana business, freezing out many people in communities of color who bore the brunt of the war on marijuana for decades. Representatives from the Department of Health, the State Police, and the Department of Business Regulation all expressed strong support for the bill, but legalized recreational marijuana ultimately was not included in the full revised budget.