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Rhode Island Governor Will Push for Recreational Cannabis Again in 2020

Gina Raimondo marijuana legalization

Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo (D) announced she will once again attempt to legalize recreational marijuana in her state following encouragement from surrounding state leaders.

Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo indicated that she will push for recreational marijuana legalization again in 2020 during in an interview with a local news station.

“Last year we made a step forward with more medical [marijuana] and I think the next logical step is adult use,” she told reporters at WPRI.

The Ocean State governor proposed legalization changes in the 2019 budget, but it was dropped by state lawmakers. However, six new medical marijuana dispensaries were approved in the state’s budget.

After a lunch meeting with Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont (D) and Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R), Raimondo (D) said she felt encouraged to pursue recreational cannabis policy change again.


Marijuana discussion begins around 12:30

Raimondo said she asked for input from Baker, who governs a state where adult-use marijuana is already legal, and he encouraged her to be ahead of the curve.

“He basically said, look, you’re going to have to do it, so you probably should do it and do it right,” she said. “And I think he is probably right.”

Last month, Raimondo took a strong step to ensure the state’s medical marijuana and hemp industry stay open to public access. According to a Providence Journal report, the governor sued the General Assembly telling reporters she wanted to “enforce the Constitution” and “let people know that Rhode Island is open for business, everyone has a chance to compete, and it’s just not for the politically connected.”

Raimondo objected to the move of lawmakers who approved legislation in the state budget that would make all new cannabis-related regulations “subject to approval by the General Assembly prior to enactment.”

The state’s House Speaker agreed to let go of the “legislative veto” power and would find a way to amend the law when session begins again for the General Assembly in January.

Medical marijuana was legalized in Rhode Island in 2006. Raimondo expanded the program’s list of qualifying conditions in 2016, and the list was again expanded in 2018. Lawmakers have decriminalized small amounts of marijuana.

Learn more about the state’s cannabis laws by visiting our Rhode Island Marijuana Laws page.

Northeastern States Unite for Cannabis Reform

Rhode Island isn’t the only state where efforts to legalize recreational marijuana are underway.

In October, a group of Northeastern governors gathered at a marijuana reform summit led by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Those in attendance included Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont (D), New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) and Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D).

Other representatives from Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Colorado also made an appearance. While the summit addressed vaping, the state leaders also discussed how to best “legalize and standardize recreational marijuana on a regional basis.”

Cuomo (D) announced in late September that he wanted to participate in a regional development of marijuana reform.

“For one state to do it, it makes no sense if the neighboring state has a totally different policy, because you then just incentivize people to drive over the border and buy it there,” Cuomo said in a New York Public Radio interview.

More on Cannabis

To learn more about cannabis laws in the northeastern states, visit Where Is Marijuana Legal?. For more reports on cannabis policy, business, and scientific research, check out our news page.