As lawmakers push to for the legalization of recreational marijuana in Rhode Island, we have been vigilantly watching any legislation addressing the topic. Though we support legalization, we raised a number of concerns about this bill, including the inappropriate imposition of broad criminal record checks on individuals seeking to engage in the recreational marijuana industry; the need for strong employment protections for recreational users; the lack of an automatic expungement process for prior convictions relating to marijuana; and a call for amendments to limit the ability for law enforcement to search vehicles due to marijuana odor; and protections for medical marijuana patients.
When this legislation passed both chambers in late May 2022 and legalized recreational marijuana in Rhode Island, some of these concerns, including the inclusion of an automatic expungement process, were positively addressed, though this law still could stand to be improved on in future legislative sessions. Our comprehensive summary of the provisions of the amended version which passed into law may be found below.
The FY 2023 Budget proposal additionally contains a budget article, Article 11, which would legalize recreational marijuana. Our commentary on this language can be found below.