According to a study conducted by the Monitoring the Future Survey, marijuana is now more widely used by teens than tobacco. This is an alarming fact because marijuana is nowhere near as benign a substance as the general public is being led to believe. In fact, smoking marijuana poses many of the same risks as highly toxic tobacco; some of the chemicals produced when smoking pot are identical to those found in cigarette smoke. Additionally, marijuana is marketed as a safer alternative to other drugs because it is not addictive. However, this is completely untrue: prolonged marijuana use does lead to physical dependence- especially in teens. And despite the dangerous nature of tobacco, marijuana poses a greater risk in that it alters the perception of those who use it, leading to a host of physical, mental and emotional problems.
The Monitoring the Future Survey provided detailed questionnaires about drug and tobacco use to 46,000 teen students between 8th and 12th grades. The surveyed asked for confidential answers about drug, alcohol and tobacco use, with most questions centered on the student’s use of tobacco and marijuana within two periods: the last 30 days and within the last 12 months. Allowing for a margin of error based on exaggeration, omission or other inaccuracies, the results were nonetheless unexpected.
Of the 10th to 12th grade students in the survey, an astonishing 20% had used marijuana within the previous 30 day period. Among other details, the surveyed showed that 8th grade to 12th grade students preferred marijuana over tobacco, with 19.2% reporting tobacco use during the periods in question versus 21.4% when asked the same question about marijuana. This could in large part be attributed to the strong national campaigns right now that are anti-tobacco and pro-marijuana. In fact, teens are so comfortable using marijuana that of the total students who reported using marijuana, one third of them had used 20 out of the previous 30 days. This indicates a chronic problem that is likely to worsen before it gets better.
According to the Monitoring the Future Survey of 2010, the first age at which students generally begin using marijuana is shockingly young: more than half of all respondents reported using marijuana by age 14, and one quarter of all students in the survey indicated the age of their first marijuana use was 12.
The statistics outlined in this survey were bolstered by data from addiction and substance abuse treatment centers nationwide. During 2010 more than 100,000 teens were treated for marijuana abuse and addiction at drug rehab centers or other treatment facilities. These startling figures are all the more frightening when you consider that teens that become dependent on marijuana are much more likely to become dependent on other more dangerous substances later, such as heroin, cocaine and meth.
The Rhode Island Cannabis Regulation, Control, and Taxation Act
The Cannabis Regulation, Control, and Taxation Act (read the full bill here) would replace Rhode Island’s existing policy of cannabis prohibition and permit adults (21 or older) to possess and purchase limited amounts of cannabis. It would establish the Office of Cannabis Coordination within the executive branch to oversee the creation of a legal cannabis market that will replace illicit cannabis dealers with strictly regulated, tax paying businesses.
Limited personal possession and home cultivation
- Adults 21 or older are permitted to possess up to one ounce of cannabis and infused cannabis products containing no more than a total of 300 mg of THC.
- Limited home cultivation is permitted, with no more than one mature cannabis plant per individual and no more than three mature cannabis plants in a single residence. Individuals may also possess up to five ounces of cannabis at home. All plants must have a unique identifier tag issued by the Department of Business Regulation.
- The Cannabis Regulation, Control, and Taxation Act establishes the Office of Cannabis Coordination under the authority of the governor to implement the law, promulgate regulations, and oversee all aspects of the legal cannabis market. The Office of Cannabis Coordination will facilitate cooperation among local officials, state agencies, and the General Assembly.
- A Cannabis Advisory Board, comprised of law enforcement officials, public health experts, and other stakeholders, will be established to: study issues related to cannabis regulation; inform the Office of Cannabis Coordination of potential issues and recommend reforms; and facilitate hearings to allow for public testimony and input.
- Working closely with the Office of Cannabis Coordination, the Department of Business Regulation and Department of Health will have authority to issue four kinds of cannabis business registrations: at least 25 cultivation facilities, at least 40 retailers, at least 20 processors (permitted to create infused cannabis products such as oils, edibles, and tinctures), and at least 10 testing facilities.
- All cannabis establishments must maintain a “seed-to-sale” tracking system to allow regulators to closely monitor inventory.
- All cannabis products must be laboratory tested to measure potency and check for harmful contaminants.
- To prevent the sale of products that are appealing to children, all edible cannabis product lines must undergo a review process and require approval from the Office of Cannabis Coordination before being permitted for sale. Individual edible products may not contain more than one serving of THC.
- All aspects of advertising, labeling, and packaging of cannabis products will be strictly regulated to minimize availability and exposure to youth.
Taxes and fees
- Cannabis products are subject to a 23% retail excise tax in addition to the normal 7% sales tax.
- Cannabis businesses are required to submit application fees (not to exceed $5,000) and annual registration fees (not to exceed $20,000 for cultivation facilities and not to exceed $10,000 for retailers, processors, and testing facilities) to cover the costs of regulating the program.
- Adults who choose to cultivate cannabis at home must purchase a unique identifier tag issued by the department of business regulation for each plant, with a fee not to exceed $50.
- After covering all costs associated with the implementation and regulation of the law, 50% of cannabis revenue will be deposited into the state general fund, 10% will be distributed to the localities (proportional to the number of cannabis businesses located within the town or city), 5% will provide funding to law enforcement officials to enforce laws against impaired driving, and 35% will be given to the Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities and Hospitals to distribute to programs and agencies for substance use disorder treatment services and youth substance use prevention programs.
- Municipalities are allowed to impose any additional regulations, fines, or penalties on cannabis businesses that violate local ordinances, provided they do not conflict with provisions of the law or regulations promulgated by state agencies.
- Through a simple majority referendum, voters in municipalities may choose to prohibit any class of cannabis establishment from operating within their city or town.
What the Cannabis Regulation, Control, and Taxation Act does not do:
- Allow anyone to smoke cannabis in public.
- Make it legal to drive under the influence of cannabis.
- Force employers to accommodate cannabis use or change existing drug testing policies.
- Allow individuals to manufacture cannabis products with the use of dangerous solvents such as butane.
New Rhode Island Poll Finds Strong and Widespread Support for Regulating and Taxing Marijuana Like Alcohol
For Immediate Release
Advisory for event TODAY (Tue.) at 11 a.m. ET
Jared Moffat, Director of Regulate Rhode Island
New Rhode Island Poll Finds Strong and Widespread Support for Regulating and Taxing Marijuana Like Alcohol
TODAY at 11 a.m. ET, state lawmakers will join Regulate RI for a news conference to discuss the poll, which found 59% of Rhode Island voters are now in favor and only 36% are opposed; additional local polls found strong majority support in Providence, Warwick, Cranston, Newport, North Kingstown, and Burrillville/Glocester
* Photo opportunity — Large sign will highlight state and local poll results (small version attached) *
PROVIDENCE, R.I. — A new poll shows momentum is building behind the effort to end marijuana prohibition in Rhode Island. Regulate RI director Jared Moffat will hold a news conference TODAY (Tue.) at 11 a.m. in Room 101 of the State House to discuss the results. He will be joined by Sen. Joshua Miller (D-Cranston) and Rep. Scott Slater (D-Providence), who recently introduced the Cannabis Regulation, Control, and Taxation Act.
According to the new poll from Public Policy Polling (PPP), about three out of five voters in the state (59%) are now in favor of regulating and taxing marijuana like alcohol, up from 57% in 2015. Only about one out of three voters (36%) is opposed. The statewide survey of 759 registered Rhode Island voters was conducted January 27-29 and has a margin of error of +/- 3.6%. The full poll results are available at http://www.regulateri.com/polling.
“Rhode Island has the opportunity to become the third New England state to regulate marijuana for adult use,” said Miller, the chairman of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee. “The results of this poll confirm that our constituents want us to follow the same path as Massachusetts and Maine.”
Separate polls of voters in various Rhode Island cities and towns found support for regulating and taxing marijuana is strong throughout the state:
- Providence: 62% in favor; 31% opposed (354 respondents; MOE +/-5.2%)
- Cranston: 58% in favor (up from 50% in 2015); 41% opposed (195 respondents; MOE +/-7.0%)
- Warwick: 61% in favor; 35% opposed (254 respondents; MOE +/-6.2%)
- Newport: 64% in favor (up from 58% in 2015); 33% opposed (156 respondents; MOE +/-7.9%)
- North Kingstown: 53% in favor; 45% opposed (225 respondents; MOE +/-6.5%)
- Burrilleville/Glocester: 70% in favor; 27% opposed (187 respondents; MOE +/-7.2%)
PPP polls conducted in 2015 also found 60% support in Coventry, 63% support in Cumberland, 52% support in Johnston, and 54% support in Narragansett.
“A strong and growing majority of voters support our proposal to regulate marijuana,” Rep. Slater said. “Our job is to represent the people of this state, and their position on this issue is pretty clear. It’s time to replace the senseless policy of marijuana prohibition with a sensible policy of regulation.”
The Cannabis Regulation, Control, and Taxation Act would allow adults 21 and older to possess up to one ounce of marijuana and grow one mature marijuana plant in an enclosed, locked space. It would establish the Office of Cannabis Coordination within the executive branch, which would be charged with coordinating among state agencies to establish a tightly regulated system of licensed marijuana retail stores, cultivation facilities, processing facilities, and testing facilities. The legislation would also create a 23% excise tax on retail marijuana sales in addition to the standard 7% sales tax.
“Most Rhode Islanders recognize prohibition has failed and seem to view regulating marijuana is a no-brainer,” Moffat said. “Regulation better protects young people, improves public health and safety, and creates more economic opportunities for workers and entrepreneurs in our state. No matter how you look at it, this is clearly a smart path for us to take. Lawmakers would be wise to follow the will of their constituents.”
WHAT: News conference to announce results of new polls showing majority support for regulating and taxing marijuana similarly to alcohol
WHEN: TODAY, Tuesday, February 8, 11 a.m. ET
WHERE: Rhode Island State House, Room 101,82 Smith St., Providence
WHO: Sen. Joshua Miller, Senate bill sponsor
Rep. Scott Slater, House bill sponsor
Jared Moffat, Regulate Rhode Island director
The state of Colorado pulled in nearly $200 million in tax revenue last year thanks to its $1.3 billion in marijuana revenue.
The Colorado Department of Revenue announced Thursday the state’s revenue had pushed past $1 billion. Colorado legalized recreational marijuana in 2012, along with Washington state, and this was its third year of regulated sales. In its first year revenue hit $699.2 million, followed by $996.2 million the second year.
Fifty-nine percent of Rhode Islanders — nearly three out of every five residents — support legalizing recreational marijuana, according to a new poll commissioned by Regulate Rhode Island, the arm of the Marijuana Policy Project leading the local push for legalization.
The Rhode Island Attorney General’s Office is circulating an inaccurate and misleading resolution to local town councils. Read below for a point-by-point response from Regulate Rhode Island.
Attorney General Peter Kilmartin’s office has drafted a resolution opposing passage of legislation to regulate and tax marijuana for adult use. The template resolution, which is being circulated to town councils around the state, contains a number of untrue claims and implications. Below is a point-by-point response to the Attorney General’s resolution.
“WHEREAS, The Rhode Island General Assembly has and will be considering legislation to “legalize” marijuana in the State of Rhode Island, which would create an alleged billion dollar commercial marijuana industry in Rhode Island to promote and support the consumption of so-called “recreational” marijuana by residents and visitors to Rhode Island and its thirty-nine (39) cities and towns; and”
REALITY: This statement suggests that the legislation is designed to “promote” marijuana consumption. This is an unfair characterization unless one also thinks laws that legalize the sale and production of alcohol are designed to “promote” alcohol consumption. The intent of the legislation is to put in place protections and safeguards to regulate the production and sale of marijuana, which currently happens in an underground market that profits illicit dealers.
“WHEREAS, legislation “legalizing” marijuana and creating a commercial marijuana industry may authorize to be located in Rhode Island and its cities and towns an unlimited number of marijuana retail stores, wholesale growers and manufacturers, to produce and distribute marijuana and marijuana products, including specifically marijuana candy and other edibles and highly potent marijuana concentrates; and”
REALITY: The proposed legislation would grant significant authority to local governments to control when, where, and how marijuana establishments operate within their jurisdiation. Additionally, towns and cities would be permitted to “opt out” and ban marijuana establishments if such a proposal is approved through a local referendum. The bill under consideration in the General Assembly also requires all edible marijuana products to go through an approval process before being allowed for sale, and it specifically prohibits any products that are designed to be appealing to children (including candy).
“WHEREAS, the states of Colorado and Washington that have been the earliest adopters of commercial marijuana are already experience highest-in-the-nation teenage use and a doubling of marijuana impaired driving fatalities; and”
REALITY: According to a recent report from Colorado’s Dept. of Public Health and Environment, the rate of marijuana use among adults and adolescents “has not changed since legalization either in terms of the number of people using or the frequency of use among users.” The report also states, “Based on the most comprehensive data available, past-month marijuana use among Colorado adolescents is nearly identical to the national average.” Virtually every survey of teens in Washington and Colorado has found that marijuana use rates have either remained stable or declined since legalization laws were implemented.
REALITY: There is no evidence for the claim that there has been a “doubling of marijuana impaired driving fatalities” in Colorado and Washington. A 2016 analysis from the Cato Institute concluded that there is no evidence linking legal marijuana with increased traffic fatalities in any states that have legalized for adult use. The Attorney General’s office is most likely thinking about a study of car accidents in Washington conducted by AAA. But the report itself notes that “results of this study do not indicate that drivers with detectable THC in their blood at the time of the crash were necessarily impaired by THC or that they were at fault for the crash,” since “the data available cannot be used to assess whether a given driver was actually impaired, and examination of fault in individual crashes was beyond the scope of this study.”
“WHEREAS, legislation “legalizing” marijuana and creating a commercial marijuana industry may severely limit the right and ability of cities and towns and their elected governments to impose reasonable and meaningful restrictions on the marijuana industry, including impediments to local rules around the number, type and location or marijuana retail stores, growers and manufacturers on “home grows”; and”
REALITY: The legislation being considered by the General Assembly states, “Municipalities shall have the authority to enact ordinances or regulations not in conflict with this chapter or with rules and regulations adopted by the office of cannabis coordination regulating the time, place, and manner of cannabis establishments’ operations.” The bill also makes clear that local governments would have the authority to create zoning restrictions for marijuana businesses, and it would allow cities and towns ban marijuana establishments altogether through a local referendum.
“WHEREAS, legislation “legalizing” marijuana and creating a commercial marijuana industry would introduce new and additional drug-based activity into cities and towns at a time when so many residents, families and communities are struggling with the human and social consequences of addiction and Rhode Island faces an unprecedented opioid crisis; and”
REALITY: This statement implies that replacing the underground marijuana market with regulated businesses will contribute to the problem of opioid addiction and overdose in our state. However, recent scientific studies show: (1) that states with greater legal access to marijuana have lower rates of opioid use and overdose that states with stricter laws; and (2) that marijuana can be an effective substitute for people seeking to recover from addiction to opioid drugs. Marijuana does not cause fatal overdoses and is also far less addictive than opioids. Furthermore, the legislation under consideration would direct a significant percentage of tax revenue from marijuana to be used for substance abuse treatment, recovery, and prevention programs to help us address the opioid crisis.
“WHEREAS, legislation “legalizing” marijuana and creating a commercial marijuana industry risks creating a new industry that, much like Big Tobacco, subverts public health for private gain, even as so many questions about its consequences remain unanswered and so much information that is available casts grave doubt on its merits and desirability; and”
REALITY: Under the proposed legislation, marijuana would be more strictly regulated than tobacco. Furthermore, few policy experts think that making tobacco illegal is the right way to minimize its health risks. With tobacco, we’ve seen a combination of education, regulation, and tax policy lead to historically low usage rates among adults and teens. We can and should use those same tools to address marijuana use. Those tools, however, are not available under the current policy of prohibition.
 “Medical Cannabis Laws and Opioid Analgesic Overdose Mortality in the United States, 1999-2010,” Marcus A. Bachhuber, MD et al., The Journal of the American Medical Association, Volume 174, Issue 10, 1668 – 1673 & “Medical Marijuana Laws Reduce Prescription Medication Use In Medicare Part D,” Ashley C. Bradford and W. David Bradford, Health Affairs, Volume 35, Issue 7, 1230-1236
 “Medical Cannabis Use Is Associated With Decreased Opiate Medication Use in a Retrospective Cross-Sectional Survey of Patients With Chronic Pain,” Boehnke, Kevin F. et al., The Journal of Pain, Volume 17, Issue 6, 739 – 744 & “The Effects of Dronabinol During Detoxification and the Initiation of Treatment with Extended Release Naltrexone,” A. Bisaga et al., Drug and Alcohol Dependence, Volume 154, 38-45
It’s hard to believe we’re still debating whether adults should be allowed to use cannabis. No one questions our freedom to enjoy a beer or a glass of wine with dinner. But the devil’s lettuce? Our government still says, “no way.” The hypocrisy is breathtaking.