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Senate leaders say they won’t support recreational marijuana

December 18, 2019 GMT
In this March 23, 2017, photo, Rhode Island Senate President Dominick Ruggerio, D-North Providence, conducts his first session at the Statehouse in Providence, R.I. Rhode Island Senate leaders say they won't support legalizing recreational marijuana if Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo chooses to propose it next year. Ruggerio said in an interview Tuesday that legalizing recreational marijuana would have a negative impact on the state's youth, and education is already suffering. (AP Photo/Stephan Savoia, File)
In this March 23, 2017, photo, Rhode Island Senate President Dominick Ruggerio, D-North Providence, conducts his first session at the Statehouse in Providence, R.I. Rhode Island Senate leaders say they won't support legalizing recreational marijuana if Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo chooses to propose it next year. Ruggerio said in an interview Tuesday that legalizing recreational marijuana would have a negative impact on the state's youth, and education is already suffering. (AP Photo/Stephan Savoia, File)

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Rhode Island Senate leaders said they won’t support legalizing recreational marijuana if Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo chooses to propose it next year.

Legalizing recreational marijuana for adult use will have a negative impact on the state’s youth and education is already suffering, Rhode Island Senate President Dominick Ruggerio said during an interview with Tuesday.

Raimondo has said she’s likely to propose legalizing recreational marijuana in her upcoming 2020 budget. The General Assembly denied her attempts to propose legislation in the last budget, but six new medical marijuana dispensaries were authorized in the state.

Ruggerio said he supported legalizing medical marijuana, which lawmakers approved in 2007, but noted that he believes stronger regulation is needed for the program.

Senate Majority Leader Michael McCaffrey, also a Democrat, joined Ruggerio in the interview.

McCaffrey said he’s wary of how legalization could impact worker safety and federal work requirements for defense contracts and how impaired drivers will be tested.

Rhode Island should wait to see how recreational marijuana legalization plays out in neighboring Massachusetts, which approved it about a year ago, both politicians said.