Rhode Island Voters Will Get to Tell Lawmakers their Opinion on Legalization
Voters in Rhode Island may just get the opportunity to tell lawmakers their opinion on legalization in the next election. A new bill filed in the state’s House of Representative earlier in March would put a non-binding ballot measure on the ballot asking voters whether they support legalization of cannabis or not. Filed by Representative Scott Slater (D), the referendum would be meant only to poll the states voters and see what their thoughts on the subject are.
However, if a landslide majority were to answer “yes” to this ballot question then lawmakers would have little choice at that point other than to take a serious look at legalizing cannabis in 2019. While many states are able to petition for ballot referendum – like the 8 first states to legalize cannabis – Rhode Island does not have that option.
This may make it harder in many cases for the state to see progressive changes like legalization – but at least one state, Vermont, has shown that lawmakers should not fear this change, but rather embrace it.
“Do you support the legalization of possession and use of marijuana by persons who are at least 21 years of age, subject to regulation and taxation that is similar to the regulation and taxation of tobacco and alcohol?” the proposed question reads.
Rhode Island is not the only state that may be considering a legislature introduced ballot referendum this fall. Illinois has already approved a non-binding marijuana legalization question for their November ballot – and Maryland and a handful of others, are considering similar referendum.
While the ballot measure is non-binding, it will serve as a good tool when determining whether it is something that voters in the state would want to do. Would the ability to petition make a difference in these states? Are most voters in favor of legalization in Rhode Island? If all goes well with approving this referendum for the ballot, we will find out this November.