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Rhode Island Coalition Pushes Most Equitable Legal Cannabis Regulations Yet

Rhode Island activists will be following most closely in the footsteps of New York

In recent years, it has become clear that there is no longer a question of whether we’ll see the end of cannabis prohibition: All signs indicate that cannabis will be legalized in the United States for adult recreational use. The questions now are about when it will happen and, crucially, how it will take shape.

With every act of state-level decriminalization, an aperture is created — a space for forging policy around cannabis that could influence how the inevitable national shifts take place. In one such vision, major corporations can step in and further establish “Big Weed” monopolies. In another, opportunities are created for those in power to reckon with the extreme racist violence of the war on drugs and to ensure that the communities decimated by prohibition can benefit from legal weed going forward.

Thanks, as ever, to tireless grassroots efforts, a focus on racial and social justice is increasingly becoming the standard for legalizing cannabis. At present, a coalition of anti-racist activists and labor organizers in Rhode Island are working to pass the most progressive legalization legislation in the country.

From Illinois to Vermont, legislatures have included at least some equity policies in their legalization laws, but the Rhode Island activists will be following most closely in the footsteps of New York. When it became the 15th state to legalize the recreational use of cannabis in March, the state set a bar for centering racial and class equity.

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