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 13 FOLDS MAGAZINE • ISSUE XXIX• NOVEMBER 2021   Continued from Page 39 BY JULIE ANN MEJIA only to get punished for doing so, seems counterproductive. The state needs to work together with these retailers and support them so that they can operate correctly and legally. They should not discourage the small guy by bombarding them with fines and confiscating their goods due to an inter- pretation of poorly written legislation. We wonder why so many Rhode Island smoke shops and other entities are going under. The state needs to step up and support small businesses, like Souza’s, that are only looking to operate within the defined regulations. If you’d like to learn more about Christopher Souza and his wonderful family business of over 30 years, The Wonderland Smoke Shop, please feel free to visitthem in person at: 666 East Ave, Warwick, RI 02886 or on Facebook, at: Wonderland Smoke Shop. JULIE ANN MEJIA  legislation and recently banned flavored vaping. Sadly, what the state doesn’t realize is by making it challenging to the retailer to carry certain products and by having interpretative/unclear legislation, the state loses out. Why and how you ask? The consumer will drive into bordering states to purchase these products and those states will collect taxes. Online retailers will also benefit if the State of Rhode Island refuses to adapt. Souza just wants to conduct business legally and “by the books” and unfortu- nately the state is making that challenging for him and others to do so. “I fully understand that taxes need to be paid; I’m not saying they shouldn’t. In my situation, in regards to non-tobacco products for medicinal cannabis use, there’s a significant sales opportunity for the retailer as well as tax collec- tion for the state. Sadly, the state pays these revenue officers 75-80k a year to go around and search for such products and then send multi-thousand dol- lar fines to retailers. Instead of doing that, the state could simply have these workers looking for people who are evading their taxes, not the ones trying to pay them.” The state of Rhode Island really needs to rethink their approach especially as recreational legalization looms. As it stands, the state should consider re- vamping their definition of the term cigarette in Bill H 7647, and add a new class of taxation and or a new form all together, in regards to non-tobacco based products. Stories like Christopher Souza’s are sadly all too common. Blue collar mom-and-pop establishments that are trying to play by the rules 41 

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