I wasn’t exactly shocked when I heard Governor Linc Chafee was open to exploring the legalization of pot for recreational use. After all, he’s a lame duck not seeking re-election in a state with a stagnant economy and the highest unemployment rate in the nation. Sound like the perfect scenario to pick the low hanging fruit to me. And when I say low hanging fruit, I’m talking about the apple almost touching the ground.
At this weekend’s National Governor’s Association’s winter meeting in DC, Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper talked about the legalization of marijuana in his state that’s expected to crank out more than $100 million in taxes and regulatory fees this year. Chafee says Hickenlooper “opened a lot of eyes” with that number. I’d guess Chafee’s were was as wide as a pair of fine dinner plates.
Colorado and Washington are the only two states that have legalized and regulated marijuana sales for recreational use while Rhode Island is one of 20 states with medical marijuana laws permitting use of the drug by patients suffering from chronic pain and other ailments. Hey, if we’ve cleared THAT hurdle, is there still a stigma surrounding marijuana? Hasn’t the drug become far less controversial?
Legislation to legalize marijuana is currently making its way through the General Assembly. Chafee says if it were to reach his desk, he’d evaluate it at that time. If it does make it that far, I’d sign it and run if I were Chafee. Gambling and lottery dough is already the third highest source of state revenue in Rhode Island. Why not toss another vice into the mix? Have you heard any better ideas on revenue sources from the candidates for Governor?