Rhode Island Governor Files Lawsuit to Block Lawmakers from Regulating Medical Cannabis, Hemp
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Rhode Island Governor Files Lawsuit to Block Lawmakers from Regulating Medical Cannabis, Hemp

Gov. Gina Raimondo has asked a Superior Court judge to rule unconstitutional new powers that lawmakers awarded themselves over the industry earlier this year.

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October 23, 2019

Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo filed a lawsuit against the state’s General Assembly Oct. 22 to take exclusive control of medical cannabis and hemp regulation.

Raimondo is asking a Superior Court judge to rule unconstitutional new powers that lawmakers awarded themselves over the industry earlier this year in the state budget, according to a Providence Journal report.

The budget authorized six additional medical cannabis dispensaries in the state, the news outlet reported, and mandated that all new cannabis regulations be approved by the General Assembly. Raimondo objected to the latter provision, according to the Providence Journal.

House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello has agreed to give up “legislative veto” power and indicated that he will pursue legislation to change the law when the General Assembly reconvenes in January, the news outlet reported. Raimondo was not moved, however, and filed the lawsuit shortly thereafter.

According to the Providence Journal, Raimondo told reporters that she seeks to “enforce the Constitution” and “let people know that Rhode Island is open for business, everyone has a chance to compete, and it’s not just for the politically connected.”

Raimondo reluctantly introduced an adult-use cannabis legalization proposal in her budget plan in January, acknowledging that Rhode Island was facing the “inevitable” prospect of being surrounded by legal states. State officials then sought advice on legalization from Massachusetts and Colorado, although Rhode Island’s legalization plans ultimately fell through this year.

The state’s medical cannabis program, on the other hand, saw record sales.