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Raimondo Says She's Open To A Referendum On Legalizing Marijuana

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Governor Gina Raimondo said Tuesday she's open to the possibility of a statewide referendum on legalizing marijuana.

Governor Gina Raimondo said Tuesday she's open to the possibility of a statewide referendum on legalizing marijuana.

Following a lunch meeting with reporters, Raimondo pointed to "some talk at the General Assembly of maybe putting it on the ballot to ask the voters their opinion of should we do this? And I would be open to that, because I think it's a big issue and it would be good know where the voters stand."

At the same time, Raimondo said she doesn't want the state to move too quickly on legalization.

"I am looking at whether Rhode Island should legalize recreational marijuana" she said. "I don't want to rush into it, though, because there are issues of safety, issues of safety for kids -- how do you regulate it properly? I have been in discussion with the governor of Colorado, and our staffs are talking, just lessons learned from them. They've had a couple of years of experience. They've made some mistakes, which they'll be the first to admit, and so I want to learn from them."

In a statement, Speaker Mattiello said, "I am considering the possibility of placing a non-binding referendum question on the ballot regarding the use of recreational marijuana. The legislation on this issue has not been considered yet by the House Judiciary Committee. After a public hearing is held in the near future, the House will consider the various options.”

Legislation to legalize marijuana and regulate and tax it like alcohol have been introduced in the legislature. So far, the Senate has shown more support for the concept than the House, although Speaker Nicholas Mattiello said he's keeping an open mind.

Massachusetts voters will decide this November whether that state should legalize marijuana.

Legalization supporters in Rhode Island say the state would realize more benefits by moving forward quickly. Opponents say legalizing marijuana would pose a risk of address harm to minors.

This post has been updated.

Raimondo speaking with reporters last year.
Raimondo speaking with reporters last year.