Is recreational cannabis use coming to Rhode Island? The Ocean State moved one step closer to new cannabis regulations as the Senate Judiciary Committee approved a bill on Monday that would legalize, tax, and regulate marijuana in the state.

So what happens next?

The bill passed 6-2, but this is just the first step. With the bill approval, it will now move to the Senate floor for an official vote, a first in the state legislature.

Rhode Island Governor Dan McKee is in favor of recreational use of marijuana, but his approach is a stark contrast to the Senate bill. WPRI reports that McKee’s proposal would allow fewer stores to open at first and would ban home growing, while the Senate bill would allow people to grow at home and allow for more stores.

Senator Josh Miller has been fighting for marijuana legalization for a decade, telling WPRI that Rhode Island is moving too slowly. Massachusetts legalized recreational use in 2016, and Connecticut is not far behind. Having an approved bill moving to the floor is a good sign for those who are in favor of recreational use.

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In my opinion, it’s about time. With Massachusetts legalizing recreational use five years ago, and with legalization in Connecticut on the horizon, it puts Rhode Island in the center of missed revenue. Rhode Islanders don’t like to drive farther than 20 minutes for anything, but if their neighboring states are offering legal substances, they will certainly make an exception.

With Rhode Island’s budget being the most pressing order of business, no matter what the full Senate decides next week, the House will most likely address the bill in the fall of this year.

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