PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Recreational marijuana could soon move one step closer to becoming legal in Rhode Island.
Tuesday afternoon, the full House and Senate are scheduled to vote on separate, but identical, bills that would decriminalize, regulate and tax recreational cannabis use for adults statewide.
The new version of the bill, released last week, amends the legislation to allow for the automatic expungement of civil or criminal marijuana possession charges. The original bill would have required people to request the expungement from the court, which raised objections from advocates.
The legislation gives the courts until July 1, 2024, to automatically expunge past convictions, and also allows people who want their convictions expunged sooner to request it.
Court spokesman Craig Berke said they estimate “tens of thousands” of cases would be expunged.
“The governor has included $340,000 in the next budget for overtime and contract work to perform this task in the first year, which we think will inform the need for the second year. The money will come from the marijuana trust fund that will accompany the legislation,” Berke said.
The amended bill would also eliminate the fees medical marijuana patients have to pay, including the cost to get a medical card and plant tags.
If approved, the bill would legalize possession of cannabis right away, but retail sales wouldn’t start until December.
A spokesperson for McKee previously told 12 News that the governor is looking forward to reviewing the final bill that comes out of the General Assembly and signing it into law.
Both chambers are set to meet at 4 p.m.