Marijuana Legalization Referendum Not Looking Good This Session – And That’s Good

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The Providence Journal is reporting this morning, as did WPRI, that

Chances are dwindling that a referendum on legalizing marijuana will appear on the November ballot in Rhode Island.

“A referendum on this year’s ballot is unlikely,” House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello told The Providence Journal in an email Monday.

This is a good thing, with apologies to my friend Pat Ford and others who support the legalization of cannibis. One of the pro-legalization arguments is that use of the substance is the same as legal liquor. I might, might, might entertain that argument if it meant that the total number of people who use mood-altering substances did not change. But all indications are that this is not what happens.

Further, legalization hasn’t gone wonderfully in Colorado – far from it. When this discussion comes up at the General Assembly next year, these statistics need to heavily weigh on the ledger against the increased tax revenue often cited by cannibis advocates. Colorado’s experience strikes me as too high a price for Rhode Islanders to pay to legalize marijuana.



  • stuckinRI

    Interesting statistics regarding High School aged children. Is it more difficult for the underage to get marijuana now that it’s legal? I wonder. The ‘black market’ has no age limit per se, whereas now that it’s legal (like alcohol) the gov’t is enforcing an age limit.

    • Max

      Two false premises are (1) that government enforcement of an age restriction is some how more effective than enforcing it without and (2) the black market will magically disappear once it’s legalized.

  • ShannonEntropy
  • Lance Wilson

    The national trend for HS aged children is down, but CO remains above the national average. If you look a pricing and cost data in states with legalization, the costs remain above black market prices in the areas either within the state or nearby. Without pot legal at the federal level (and all the associated costs from that, including banking risks, security issues, etc.), legalization won’t drive away a black market.

    You would need legalization on a national level, ability to sell on-line/across borders, and a serious move to a cashless society to kill the black market.

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