RI State Police seize $60K worth of marijuana

Medical marijuana has been legal in Rhode Island since 2006. There are presently 5 medical dispensaries in the state of Rhode Island, and Rhode Island is one of precious few states that accept medical marijuana cards from out of state patients. It is not really known why most states have a policy of only accepting medical marijuana cards from their own areas, but possibly has something to do with how revenue is generated from marijuana, as it might be harder to account for with out of state patients.

Marijuana Crime in Rhode Island

Rhode Island State Police seized an estimated $60,000 worth of marijuana during a routine traffic stop in West Greenwich. Troopers stopped Xia Ofeng Wang, 47, of California, near Weaver Hill Road on Interstate 95 Sunday around 11 a.m. During a search, they found over 50 pounds of pot stored in three large boxes in the car he was driving. The drugs were being transported in vacuum-sealed bags, with each bag weighing about one pound.Wang was arrested and charged with manufacturing, possession and delivery of a schedule one and schedule one/two controlled substance.Hand was held overnight at the Rhode Island Adult Correctional Institutions, pending an arraignment.In addition to the drug charges, Wang was cited for several traffic violations.

These types of crimes are going to be seen more and more in the next couple of years as black-market growers and dealers get more desperate to offload their product. Legalization spells the death of all of the black-market trade. It cannot compete with the free market of goods which is supplying top quality independently tested marijuana to the consumers, who have no real incentive to go to criminal suppliers. However, if medical marijuana is legal and recreational marijuana is not, it often does lead to the same level of black market dealership. This is the case in New Jersey. In these situations, the price of medical marijuana shoots up, as they have a monopoly. Patients do not wish to pay the extortionate prices and thus revert back to the black market, stuck between a rock and a hard place.

A Rare Marijuana Friendly State

According to polls, over 60% of Rhode Island residents are in favor of the legalization of recreational marijuana. A recent study conducted by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that Rhode Island actually has the largest number of people who have smoked marijuana in the past month. Many states seem to be on the verge of recreational marijuana legalization and we can expect a number of votes in the next couple of years and beyond. A ballot would most definitely pass in Rhode Island and other candidate states for marijuana legalization include Maine, Vermont and Ohio. Some Rhode Island legislators have actually vowed to have marijuana shops up and running before Massachusetts gets theirs open in July 2018. A bold claim, and it is rare that legislators work this fast, unless they are working together on an issue, a state of affairs that is even more rare. They have claimed to get a ballot passed before December and have the infrastructure in place within the next 6 months. They will need to work blazingly fast if they intend to do this. But it would go against the grain in terms of speed. Usually, marijuana legalization crawls at a snail’s pace, and takes forever to get even the most reasonable pieces of legislation up and running.

East Coast Legalization

It should be noted that public consumption of marijuana is still illegal and that it is to be smoked in private. There is also the issue that marijuana is illegal at the Federal level. And of course, recreational marijuana is still illegal in Rhode Island, regardless of how friendly the state is in general. Marijuana has been decriminalized in the state. Possession of less than 1 oz. is a civil offense (like a parking ticket) with a fine of up to $150, but a conviction for the sale or cultivation of more than 5 kg. can result in a term of life in prison, as seen in the above case of Wang. This is in many ways a sensible approach to marijuana, leaving small individuals to their own personal affairs while imposing severe penalties on large scale dealers caught with large amounts of an illegal substance. These types of large scale illegal growth operations usually generate toxic weed that is actively harmful as opposed to the organic weed that can be grown by local farmers, and the growing operations are said to be an absolutely catastrophe in terms of the environment. Sensible legalization seems to be the best way forward where these concerns can be taken care of. As things stand, look out for legalization in a number of east coast states in 2018, who can catch up with some of the states on the West including Nevada, Oregon, California, Alaska and Washington.

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