Several states in the New England area are leaving marijuana prohibition behind and now Rhode Island may be the next state to consider legislating the drug.

“With the reality of it being all around us, I think folks have to look at it a little harder now,” said Scott Slater, a Democratic state representative from Providence.

“Even if you’re against recreational cannabis and you feel there are social costs to it, you’re going to be dealing with those issues within your own borders, regardless, and without any of the revenue you could be raising. You might as well regulate it and tax it and put some of that money toward prevention,” he added.

Kevin A. Sabet, president of the national anti-legalization group Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM), has said, “Rhode Island is definitely a priority for us going into 2019. If anything, the stakes have gotten higher in terms of the effects of legalization around the country.”

“All this talk of legalization is obscuring the fact that today’s marijuana is so much more harmful,” said Sabet. “This is not your Woodstock-variety weed. It is high potency. It tells me we need to talk less about legalization and talk more about prevention and treatment, given where Rhode Island is right now.”

“I need to be sure everyone is comfortable with the regulations around it,” he said. “I need to get my fellow legislators to see it is a safer policy to tax and regulate than prohibition, which hasn’t worked.”

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