(Seth McConnell, Denver Post file)

Rhode Island cannabis advocates propose “incremental legalization”

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Rhode Island state lawmakers who want to legalize recreational marijuana before retail pot shops open in Massachusetts are proposing a scaled-back alternative.

Legalization advocates announced the plan Thursday after their earlier legislation stalled. They’re calling it “incremental legalization,” because it would legalize adult marijuana possession but wouldn’t yet authorize retail sales.

Sen. Joshua Miller and Rep. Scott Slater, both Democrats, say it’s a compromise. They’re looking for progress as lawmakers prepare to adjourn for the year.

But top leaders of the state Senate and House said Thursday they’re opposed.

House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello and Senate President Dominick Ruggerio, also Democrats, are backing a rival bill that would hold off the legalization debate and form a 22-person commission to study the issue.

The House could vote on that bill next week.