Marijuana decriminalized in Rhode Island
Gov. Lincoln Chafee recently signed legislation to decriminalize marijuana, making Rhode Island the 15th state in the nation to sign similar legislation.
The legislation eliminates the criminal charge for carrying 1 ounce or less of marijuana, and instead impose a civil penalty of a $150 fine, plus forfeiture of the drug. A third offense within 18 months of the previous offense would be treated as a misdemeanor.
“I am hopeful that this will allow our law enforcement officials to do what they do best: solve real crimes,” said Rep. John Edwards, who sponsored the bill.
Under the provisions of the new law, offenders who are minors would also have to complete an approved drug-awareness program and community service. The Rhode Island Traffic Tribunal would have jurisdiction over these cases. The law will go into effect on April 1, 2013.
Previously, possession of even small amounts of marijuana was considered a misdemeanor under state law and was punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $500.