PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The Providence City Council voted unanimously in favor of an ordinance that would ban marijuana use in city parks.
The ordinance is an amendment to the city’s current ban on tobacco use in parks, playgrounds and recreational centers.
The decision comes months after Rhode Island became the 19th state to legalize recreational cannabis for those ages 21 and older.
Council President John Igliozzi, the ordinance’s sponsor, described the amendment as a way to ensure public health and safety.
“Smoke is smoke,” he said. “Marijuana does the same thing and creates secondhand smoke, so all we’re doing is being consistent and making sure the public’s health, especially our children, is protected.”
The amendment must be approved by Mayor Jorge Elorza before being enacted. If passed, violators would be fined $50.
Providence residents appear split on the city’s decision. Alex Tavares believes the ordinance takes away from the legalization of the drug.
“Nobody has ever come up to me and told me to stop,” he said. “If you’re an adult, I don’t think you should have a problem with it.”
Other residents, suggested the city create designated smoking areas within the parks.
Mary Fahey, who supports the ban, agrees with Igliozzi, adding that secondhand smoke of any kind is a nuisance to other parkgoers.
“I don’t know what else they have in it,” she said. “I’m not a fan of smoke period, but if anything, have a peace pipe.”
Elorza told 12 News he has not made a decision on whether to sign the ordinance into law. The mayor said he plans on reviewing the language in the amendment before making a decision.
If approved, new signage will be put up warning parkgoers of the new ordinance, similar to those currently posted regarding the tobacco ban.