(NaturalNews) Following a growing trend across the country, Rhode Island could be the next state to legalize marijuana for recreational use, if legislation recently proposed is passed and signed into law by the governor.
A bill introduced by state Sen. Joshua Miller and state Rep. Edith Ajello, both Democrats, called the Marijuana Regulation, Control and Taxation Act would make Rhode Island the third state behind Colorado and Washington to legalize the drug - which remains illegal under federal law - for recreational use by adults 21 and older.
"Marijuana prohibition has been a long-term failure," Miller said in a statement after the legislation was introduced Feb. 13. "Forcing marijuana into the underground market ensures authorities have no control of the product. Regulating marijuana would allow the product to be sold safely and responsibly by legitimate businesses in appropriate locations."
As reported by The Huffington Post:
The initiative would permit possession of marijuana up to one ounce, in addition to legalizing cultivation of the plant. Adults 21 and older would be allowed to grow no more than two marijuana plants "in an enclosed, locked space," according to the press release. The sale of wholesale marijuana would be subject to an excise tax of up to $50 per ounce in addition to a 10-percent sales tax on retail sales.
"Regulation allows us to create barriers to teen access, such as ID checks and serious penalties for selling to those under 21," Ajello said. "Taxing marijuana sales will generate tens of millions of dollars in much-needed tax revenue for the state."
The report said that, following the launch of state-licensed pot shops after a referendum approving recreational marijuana use in Colorado, sales of marijuana and marijuana-laced products generated more than $5 million in taxed and regulated sales in the first week.
'As has been well documented, I smoked pot as a kid'
In recent polling, a majority of Americans support nationwide legalization of marijuana; a Gallup survey in October found that 58 percent support decriminalization. And in January, President Obama - who admitted to smoking (and inhaling) pot as a youngster during his 2008 presidential campaign - sided with the majority in an interview with The New Yorker.
"As has been well documented, I smoked pot as a kid, and I view it as a bad habit and a vice, not very different from the cigarettes that I smoked as a young person up through a big chunk of my adult life," Obama told the magazine. "I don't think it is more dangerous than alcohol."
The new legislation is not Rhode Island's first foray into pot legalization. The state became the 11th to legalize medical marijuana in 2006 and then decriminalized possession of up to an ounce of pot in 2013.
HuffPo reported that, according to a Project by Public Policy survey released in January, 52 percent of the state's residents support treating pot the same as alcohol.