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Rhode Island pot legalization proponents push for vote

Matt o'Brien, Associated Press

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) -- Rhode Island state legislators hoping to legalize recreational marijuana say they have enough support to pass a bill if it comes to a vote this year.

Providence Democrat and legalization proponent Rep. Scott Slater says taking action this year would allow Rhode Island to have regulations in place before retail marijuana stores open over the border in Massachusetts.

The year's first legislative hearing on the proposal is scheduled Tuesday. Opponents also are mobilizing, including Democratic Attorney General Peter Kilmartin.

Slater says he's talked to Democratic House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello, who remains open-minded and wants to see the bill vetted.

Voters in Massachusetts and several other states last year approved the use of recreational marijuana, but Massachusetts lawmakers have delayed the opening of marijuana shops until mid-2018 at the soonest.