Debate heats up over legalizing marijuana in RI

By: Rebecca Turco

Email: rturco@abc6.com

PROVIDENCE – The push to legalize marijuana in the state is hitting a bit of a bump, following recent pot arrests in the area, many of them involving kids.

“It’s very hard that it’s getting into the hands of our kids,” said Nancy DeNuccio of the Ocean State Prevention Alliance. ABC6 News caught up with her during a forum Thursday night that focused on keeping marijuana out of kids’ hands.

Just last week, a Chariho high school student was charged with passing out pot cookies. “A lot of unintended consequences that come with marijuana use and the change of attitudes around marijuana,” DeNuccio explained.

Rhode Island is considering legislation to legalize marijuana like alcohol.

You would have to be age 21 and up to use it, and the drug would be taxed and regulated.

“Marijuana exists and we can’t stick our head in the sand and think that it’s not out there,” explained the bill’s co-author, State Representative Scott Slater (D-Providence). “Our kids have access to it very easily right now. We need to take the black market away.”

“Incidents that we’ve seen are all because of a lack of regulation,” purported Jared Moffat, director of the marijuana coalition Regulate RI.

Some locals feel regulation won’t solve any problems. “It’s bad for the state of Rhode Island,” Stephen Kmack of Wickford told ABC6 News. “The only real reason why legislators want to legalize it is for the money aspect. I think they’d be better off trying to promote industry in the area.”

Slater said under the bill, 40 percent of tax revenue would go to substance abuse treatment. There will be a committee hearing on the bill in the coming weeks.

© WLNE-TV 2015