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Rhode Island Governor Supports Cannabis Expungements

March 22, 2021

Gov. Daniel McKee (D) of Rhode Island said on March 19 that he supports allowing citizens in the state to have their prior cannabis records expunged, even though that stipulation was not included in a reform proposal that he introduced last week. The bill came just days after legislative leaders introduced their own version of a bill to regulate and tax cannabis sales in the state. The legislative version clearly calls for clearing of previous convictions, while the governor’s version does not. 

In an interview with WRPI-TV, McKee said that he supports an expungement proposal put forth from Rep. Anastasia Williams (D) as “one of the equity pieces” for cannabis reform. However, when pressed as to whether he would push or automatic expungement or the requirement of petitioning to the courts for relief. 

Gov. Stance Has Shifted On Rhode Island Adult-Use Cannabis Legalization 

Although McKee was on the record for opposing marijuana for adult-use just a short time ago, the governor noted that potential policy changes in the Northeast region have caused him to shift his stance, saying that “the landscape has changed.” 

McKee continued to speak through the social justice vein promising that his plan would allocate tax dollars towards health and addiction issues, prioritize minority business owners, and allow access to participation in the industry for those who were most affected by the war on drugs. 

Sides Look to Cooperate Through Marijuana Legalization Process

Although the governor’s and legislature’s proposals contain a number of differences, both sides have indicated that they want to work together on the road to legalization. 

Under the governor’s current proposal, cannabis sales would be taxed at 17% with a special excise tax of 10% added on in addition. On this front, the proposals are similar, although the legislative plan calls for a concrete 20% tax that includes a 10% special tax, a 7% sales tax, and another 3% to be allocated towards jurisdictions that allow cannabis in their area. 

Both plans could project greater than $16.9 million in revenue in 2023 for the state. 

Contributed by Jack Berning