BY W. ZACHARY MALINOWSKI
PROVIDENCE — Governor Chafee attended the National Governors Association this weekend in Washington, D.C. and learned that legalizing and regulating marijuana may be a big source of tax revenue for Rhode Island.
Chafee listened to Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper and discovered that marijuana will generate more than $100 million in tax revenue and regulatory fees for his state this year.
Afterward, Chafee spoke to a reporter from Bloomberg News and said that Colorado’s windfall from marijuana sales “opened a lot of eyes,” and has fostered a discussion on whether to “regulate and tax it in these tough times.”
Rhode Island has the nation’s highest unemployment rate at 9.1 percent.
He also told the reporter that he would not rule out signing legislation to legalize and regulate that was introduced in the General Assembly two weeks ago.
On Monday, his spokeswoman, issued a statement.
“The state has already approved medical marijuana,” it reads. “The legislation to legalize marijuana is currently winding its way through the General Assembly. If it were to reach his desk, the Governor would evaluate it at that time.”
Colorado and Washington are the two states that have legalized marijuana for anyone at least 21 years old. Rhode Island is one of 20 states and the District of Columbia that allows marijuana for medical use as long as the state Health Department approves a patient’s application.