At Brown University Forum, Proponents Discuss Legalizing Marijuana In Rhode Island

RHODE ISLAND:  A community forum at Brown University Tuesday night on regulating and taxing marijuana was opened with a statistic contending that more African-American men are in prison, jail or on parole or probation than were enslaved in 1850.

The forum, organized by Regulate Rhode Island, a statewide coalition of citizens and organizations dedicated to “ending the failed policy of marijuana prohibition and replacing it with a system in which marijuana is regulated and taxed similarly to alcohol,” brought together two panels of four to discuss legalizing marijuana in Rhode Island.

One panelist, state Sen. Joshua Miller, whose district includes part of Cranston and Providence, is the primary sponsor of the Marijuana Regulation, Control, and Taxation Act. He said his motivation is steering people away from overdosing on opiates, which he said claim as many lives as a plane crashing at T.F. Green Airport every year. So far this year in Rhode Island, 188 people have died from accidental drug overdoses.

A brief history of prejudice and prohibition was provided by Dr. David C. Lewis, founder of Brown University’s Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies. He traced prohibitions from opium to alcohol to marijuana to prejudices against Asians, Mexicans and African-Americans.