Rhode Island: Marijuana Decriminalization Law Takes Effect Monday

Legislation signed into law last year decriminalizing minor marijuana possession offenses takes effect on Monday, April 1.

Presently, possessing cannabis in the Ocean State is classified as a criminal misdemeanor punishable by one year in jail and a $500 maximum fine. Starting Monday, the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana by an individual 18 years or older is a non-arrestable civil offense, punishable by a maximum fine of $150 but no jail time, and no criminal record.

Fifteen states have enacted similar decriminalization laws. Three states — Alaska, Colorado, and Washington — impose no criminal or civil penalty for the private possession of small amounts of marijuana. (Colorado had previously decriminalized cannabis possession decades earlier, while Alaska’s legal protections were imposed by the state Supreme Court.)

Similar decriminalization legislation is pending this year in nearly a dozen additional states, including Hawaii, Maryland, Missouri, New Jersey, Texas, and Vermont.

Lawmakers in several other states, including Maine, Oregon, and Pennsylvania, are considering separate legislation to legalize the adult consumption of cannabis and regulate its retail production and sale.

15 thoughts

  1. Eventually, even these near-token marijuana laws may go the way of antique cohabitation laws–on the books but gradually ignored until quietly repealed with little fanfare.

  2. Got to love it. It is a small victory, and there will still be a need for a black market [which continues to make using it a subversive activity], but it is a good start.

  3. Makes small scale supply almost undetectable. If you can possess up to 1 ounce with just a small fine then there will be a great deal of small time suppliers who just carry one ounce at a time. This gives an easy outlet for big scale organised crime and a means of supplementing income that was once too risky for many. These kinds of measures, whilst seeming to be a step in the right direction, could give our enemies an excuse to say that even a small softening of approach causes a massive increase in crime. It needs to be swiftly followed by full legalisation initiatives but if I lived in one of these states I would be grateful.
    I suppose you can still get busted under federal law in these states should you be unfortunate enough to catch the eye of the wrong people.

  4. Need to just legalize it at the federal level. It’s time. Wondering if you’re busted in one state (ie, TX), if you can move to a legal state and have charges dropped! Which is why Feds need to just “legalize” it and be done with it. So expensive – and EVERYbody pays and pays and pays… legalize it.

  5. So much for wv hb 2961

    This bill died in committee. It is not going to considered in either the house or the Senate.

    Delegate Evans

  6. Bout damnnnn time.. Since we are so close to Mass we are in an out of both states like its nothing..but I get pulled over in mass and im fine and get to drive away.. if I get caught in R.i. before this I was arrested…It used to be ridiculous sine I live on the states line… now I can go the 1 minute drive to mass without worrying about getting arrested in rhode island before I cross the line…

  7. Ok good! decriminalization is so yesterday. I’ts the stats quo. Politicians like Rand Paul sing the party line and just want to get elected.

  8. One problem I see from the consumer side of this issue is price. What I mean is that one can often get a better price per unit buying in bulk. So, if the price is, say, $400/oz, it might be as low as $200/oz if you were to buy a pound; which would not only last longer but would require less trips to the local dealer… Besides that, until there is a legal way to purchase your cannabis, every time you make a purchase you’re, once again, breaking the law.

    This legislation is a step in the right direction but it’s still not really great in my opinion.

  9. I can’t figure out how come there is not a humongous movement in the making to simply get rid of all victimless crimes… That includes all crimes in which damage to third parties is not involved. Why not?!

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