Rhode Island governor to call for legalization of recreational marijuana

Rhode Island governor to call for legalization of recreational marijuana

Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo (D) will call for legalized recreational marijuana in her 2019 budget proposal later this week.

Raimondo told the Providence Journal that her decision to move forward on the issue was made with “reluctance.”

"I have resisted this for the four years I’ve been governor. ... Now, however, things have changed, mainly because all of our neighbors are moving forward,” she told the newspaper last week.

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Raimondo’s office is expected to release her full budget proposal on Thursday, but press secretary Josh Block confirmed to WJAR-TV in Providence that a proposal for legalized recreational marijuana would be included.

"As our neighboring states move forward with legal marijuana, the Governor is mindful of its impact on Rhode Island, from law enforcement to public health," Block told the TV station in a statement.

Block added that the governor's proposal for legalization will ensure Rhode Island has the "strongest regulatory framework for adult-use marijuana in the nation."

Raimondo, who heads the Democratic Governors Association, told The Hill last month she would consider a legalization framework in the coming year.

"We have a robust medical marijuana program which I would like to expand this year. Then we're going to take a harder look at legalizing recreational," Raimondo said in an interview.

Rhode Island would follow states in the region such as Vermont, Massachusetts and Maine in legalizing marijuana for recreational use. The use of marijuana recreationally was legalized in at least 10 states as of 2018, with many more states eyeing it in the near future.

Medical marijuana has been legal in Rhode Island since 2007.

Federal law, however, still prohibits the use of marijuana for any reason.

Reid Wilson contributed to this article.