The state that began as Roger Williams’ noble settlement based on “freedom of conscience” for all people was recently named the 16th Worst State in America in GQ. How did the most progressive of the 13 colonies become so deplorable? The same way Amy Winehouse derailed her career: drugs. The state is #1 in the nation for consumption of illicit drugs, and the most consumed drug is, to borrow a phrase from Cypress Hill, “that skunky, funky, smelly green shit.” According to a 2003 report by the National Drug Intelligence Center (NDIC), nearly 50% of teenagers in Rhode Island had used marijuana at least once and 7.2% of the whole adult population (over 12 years old) had used the drug in the past 30 days–almost 3% above the national average. Furthermore, all of these statistics were collected before the state’s legalizing of medical marijuana in 2006, which legalized possession for “caregivers and patients” without violating state laws. Though specific studies have not been conducted recently, one can only imagine the new law sparking an increase in marijuana use. More info about RI’s love affair with marijuana after the jump.
According to priceofweed.com, a site that analyzes submitted statistics to create a marijuana price index, Rhode Island ranks in the top tier of high grade marijuana prices in the country at an average $429.07 per ounce (as opposed to $341.78 in California). Additionally, the website rates both the law enforcement and social acceptance as moderate. The NDIC report explains that the majority of marijuana in the state comes from growers in Mexico and Canada, but that some growing operations do exist in state–such as a Massachusetts man who cultivated almost 9,300 plants in a Providence building back in 2000.
Despite its seat as the #1 state for drug use, Rhode Island doesn’t seem to be taking any major action. In fact, State Senator Joshua Miller (D-Cranston) suggested in a CNBC analysis last spring that decriminalization would be beneficial to the state. While the bill has not passed as law, the policy is still up in the air because it would allow the state to allocate police resources to addressing more pressing threats to public safety (marijuana use and sale is not considered to be the cause of much violent crime in the state, nor does its use mimic the collateral damage of alcohol abuse). This type of argument reflects the claim of decriminalization lobbyists on a national scale–marijuana is a drug that has been proven to be less dangerous than alcohol, yet its prohibition continues to suck up countless American dollars with pricey enforcement measures.
Considering the prevalence of marijuana use throughout the state, it might make sense for Rhode Island to cut its losses, decriminalize the drug and pour more money into raiding D-list college bars.