RI officials turn to Mass. for advice on recreational marijuana legalization


PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — As Rhode Island flirts with the idea of legalizing recreational marijuana, state officials are seeking advice from nearby Massachusetts about what they should expect.

Laurie White of the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce invited Steven Hoffman, the Chairman of the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission to answer questions about the legalization process.

“Massachusetts is ahead of the game in terms of where Rhode Island is,” White said. “We are concerned about the role marijuana plays in the workplace and the ability of employers to set rules around marijuana for their employees.”

When Gov. Gina Raimondo unveiled this year’s budget, it included profit from marijuana sales in the state and the creation of a new office of cannabis regulation.

MORE: 12 things to know about Gov. Raimondo’s RI state budget plan »

Hoffman said it is important to start public awareness campaigns early and not to rush the legalization process.

“Do it right, resist the pressure to rush to an artificial deadline,” Hoffman said. “Think about the long term industry and how it’s going to be most beneficial to the citizens of the state.”

“We’ve learned a ton from the states that have preceded us and we’re actually really happy to help the states that are following us,” he added.

On Tuesday, the Senate Committees on Finance and Judiciary are meeting jointly to discuss the potential taxation of marijuana.

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