Update RI's Tobacco & Rolling Paper Laws; Let shops sell safer, more affordable options
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Rhode Island is one of two states in America that has specific State Excise Taxes on rolling papers. Going all they way back to 1939, this tax was instituted to have the higher tax rates on Packs of Cigarettes, also apply to those who were using papers and loose tobacco to Roll Their Own. This significantly out-of-date policy has made it so that Rolling Papers, while very rare in Rhode Island, cost over $10 a pack when you are able to find them.
Due to this very outdated policy, many retailers in the state have turned to supplying Non-Nicotine, Non-Tobacco, Mostly Hemp-Based Wraps, to their customers, as a healthier and more affordable option compared to the readily available Tobacco Products like Game & Backwoods Cigars that contain Nicotine & Tobacco.
In the past few months, the State of Rhode Island Department of Revenue & Division of Taxation has taken to "visiting" these retailers, seizing these Safer, Non-Nicotine, Non-Tobacco wraps, whilst claiming that they are contraband, and are to be taxed at the rate of cigarettes. These retailers are not only losing their initial investment in these products, but also being fined at extremely high rates, (potentially tens of thousands of dollars,) and having their Tobacco Licenses Suspended for varying ranges of time. Not only is this a gigantic burden on the individual retailers, but their customers are now left with NO legal options for a Nicotine & Tobacco Free Rolling outside of the absurdly priced and heavily limited rolling papers.
The goal of this petition is to collect the names of folks who disagree with the current taxation of tobacco, rolling papers, and related products in the state of Rhode Island. It is time to update these policies, and allow the legal Medical Cannabis Patients of Rhode Island to purchase safer, non-nicotine, non-tobacco rolling options to consume their medication. With a very strong Medical program that has existed since 2006, and a Recreational program on the horizon, it seems very clear that the State of Rhode Island needs to revisit these ancient laws and update them for the more progressive times in which we find ourselves.
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