Rhode Island: Decriminalizing Marijuana Could Save Nearly One Quarter Of A Million Dollars Annually

Rhode Island: Decriminalizing Marijuana Could Save Nearly One Quarter Of A Million Dollars Annually

Providence, RI: Legislation introduced by lawmakers this week to decriminalize marijuana possession offenses would save taxpayers an estimated one quarter of a million dollars annually in incarceration costs.

On Tuesday lawmakers introduced House Bill 7317, which would reduce penalties for minor marijuana possession offenses from a criminal misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and a $500 fine, to a civil offense punishable by no more than a $150 fine. Similar legislation is pending in New Hampshire and Washington.

To date, 13 states have decriminalized the possession marijuana for nonmedical use.

Speaking before a special legislative commission in January, Rhode Island Department of Corrections Director A. T. Wall told lawmakers that decriminalizing marijuana possession offenses would save $232,000 in prison costs annually.

The special legislative task force is conducting an ongoing review of the state’s marijuana policies. The nine-member panel is required to issue its recommendations to the legislature by March 31, 2010.

For more information, please contact Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director, at: paul@norml.org. For additional information regarding HB 7317, please visit NORML’s ‘Take Action Center’ at: http://capwiz.com/norml2/issues/.