Votes in committees scheduled next week

PROVIDENCE — After Months of negotiation behind-the scenesLegislation to legalize adult use is set for vote in legislative committees on Wednesday

Legislative Draftsmen are still finishing the final touches to the reworked legislation. This will not be published until sometime next week before the expected Wednesday voting. 

The last seen version would allow up to 33 retail licenses to be distributed in six zones statewide, including at nine medical marijuana dispensaries that could be hybrid recreational and medical retailers.    

When will Rhode Island legalize marijuana use?:Here’s how 2022 might be the answer.

Legislators, operators, and suppliers have been wondering for years who controls this lucrative new industry. existing medical marijuana dispensaries and those who hope to jump into a newly expanded industry.

Among the questions: How the legislators resolved their conflict with Gov. Dan McKee over the composition of the commission that will parcel out the lucrative licenses in this potentially booming new industry in Rhode Island.

Although the governor supports legalization of marijuana, his administration has expressed concern. “significant constitutional concerns” about how members of a proposed three-member cannabis control commission are to be appointed — and removed if necessary. 

The last-seen version of the legislation — which had House and Senate leadership backing — would allow lawmakers to tread into territory usually reserved for governors, Claire Richards, the governor’s executive counsel, wrote members of the Senate Judiciary Committee. 

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Under the state Constitution, she said, the governor has the sole power to appoint “all members of any commission”This executive performs executive functions, such as approving rules for new marijuana stores, granting retail licenses, and inspecting dispensaries. 

However, the legislation’s last version stipulates that the governor can only appoint from a list of candidates suggested by the speaker and the Senate President. He could also remove someone from the commission only with the approval by the Senate. 

“Such pervasive control by the legislature impermissibly enlarges its constitutional role at the expense of the executive,”Richards argued. 

Spokesmen for the House and Senate pushed back when the conflict bubbled to the surface.

They made the following joint statement: “This bill, and specifically the appointment process, is consistent with Rhode Island’s separation-of-powers principles and the law flowing from the Rhode Island Supreme Court.”

The appointment process, they said, “is similar to the process used in the I-195 Redevelopment District Commission and the Judicial Nominating Commission.”

The legislation would legalize the sale and possession of up to an ounce of marijuana for those 21 and older, with no more than 10 ounces for personal use kept in a primary residence. 

Community leaders who are considering hosting a dispensary retail would need to ask voters on the November ballot. 

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