The following is a transcript of the testimony provided by Rev. Jamie Washam before the House Judiciary Committee of the Rhode Island General Assembly. Video of the testimony is available via YouTube. I am a pastor and minister of First Baptist Church in America, the church founded by Roger Williams in 1638, and I’m here in support of House Bill 5555. When Roger Williams founded Rhode Island, he initiated a lively experiment. He afforded legal protection for concepts that were seen as heretical at the time, which we now embrace as rights in a common and dignified society. In the 1633 colonial charter on display in this statehouse, Rhode Island was established as a place of religious liberty and freedom of conscience. It is in this spirit that I stand in reforming our existing drug policies.
By Rev. Alexander E. Sharp Over the past six months, I have made two trips to Rhode Island to help it become the fifth state to regulate and tax marijuana. I’ve even bet $20 that we will succeed this year. If so, it will be the first time this has been accomplished through legislative action rather than the ballot initiatives in Washington, Oregon, Colorado and Alaska. Neither the Speaker of the House nor the President of the Senate has yet called the bill – HB 5777 and SB 0510 – and time is running out. They are both aware that the bill would most likely pass, and that public support is close to 60% in favor. They have given no reason for their failure to act.