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MARIJUANA MOMENT

Rhode Island might be peer pressured into legalizing marijuana by neighbors, governor hints

Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo, during the Rhode Island Governors debate at URI's Edwards Hall Auditorium, in October.
Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo, during the Rhode Island Governors debate at URI's Edwards Hall Auditorium, in October. (Matthew J. Lee/Globe Staff)

Marijuana Moment is a wire service assembled by Tom Angell, a marijuana legalization activist and journalist covering marijuana reform nationwide. The views expressed by Angell or Marijuana Moment are neither endorsed by the Globe nor do they reflect the Globe’s views on any subject area.

Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo has taken a cautious approach to the idea of legalizing marijuana over the last several years, but the end of prohibition in neighboring states might effectively peer pressure the Ocean State into joining in, she indicated in a new interview.

“Given my druthers, if I could make all of these decisions in a vacuum, I’ve been favoring a wait-and-see approach,” she told the Providence Journal. “However, Connecticut is going to do it. The new governor-elect has been crystal clear, this is a priority. It’s happening. Massachusetts is already doing it. We’re a tiny state in between these two other states.”

Connecticut Governor-elect Ned Lamont said shortly after his midterm election victory last month that ending cannabis prohibition is “going to be one of the priorities” in the state’s upcoming legislative session.

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“It’s something I would support, and I don’t want the black market controlling marijuana distribution in our state,” he said.

Legal recreational cannabis sales began last month in Massachusetts, where voters approved a legalization ballot measure in 2016.

During a debate last month prior to her reelection as governor, Raimondo said that she is “open to” legalization but is “cautious” about it, expressing concern that it is “hard to regulate so it doesn’t get into the hands of kids.”

But now, the Rhode Island governor seems to be suggesting that the state could face consequences and costs if it doesn’t move along with its neighbors to legalize marijuana and collect tax revenue from sales.

“If you look at states next door to Colorado . . . they spend a lot of money on the externalities,” Raimondo said in the interview. “Like, if we think that there is not going to be Rhode Islanders crossing the border into Seekonk or, you know, Putnam, Connecticut, we are crazy.”

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