A new bill introduced to the Rhode Island state legislature aims to boost the state’s economy by opening up the “Ocean State” to blockchain innovators.
Dubbed the Rhode Island Economic Growth Blockchain Act, the bill was introduced on Feb. 8 by Republican House representatives David Place and Blake Filippi. The bill states that the proposed creation of a regulatory sandbox in Rhode Island was spurred by the need to compete in the twenty-first-century economy:
“The state of Rhode Island understands that to compete in the twenty-first century economy, Rhode Island must offer one of the best business environments in the United States for blockchain and technology innovators, and should offer a comprehensive regulatory technology sandbox for these innovators to develop the next generation of digital products and services in Rhode Island.”
As well as creating a more welcoming environment for budding blockchain companies, the bill also seeks to establish regulations for the sale of hemp and aims to reform the banking infrastructure which has until now refused to associate with crypto or cannabis products.
Per its summary, the bill would “set regulations for the sale of hemp, regulate virtual and digital assets and establish depository banks for these purposes.”
Referring to blockchain technology specifically, the bill notes the utility of a possible state-wide blockchain records filing system:
“The state understands a public-private partnership developing an immutable interagency-industry-operability blockchain filing system is vital and redevelopment investment in opportunity zones that shall install, maintain, and organize within the system of blockchain records throughout the state is advantageous.”
The document states that laws must be updated to keep pace with technological innovations, noting that existing laws were drafted long before the advent of cryptocurrency and blockchain.
The sudden emergence of state-legal cannabis at the same as cryptocurrency has seen banks keep their doors closed to both industries, largely due to concerns over illegality at a federal level, and a general lack of regulatory guidance. The bill also aims to create a banking system more conducive to cannabis and cryptocurrency.
“The rapid innovation of blockchain technology including the growing use of virtual currency and other digital assets has resulted in many blockchain innovators being unable to access secure and reliable banking services thereby hampering development of blockchain services and products in the marketplace,” it states.