Rhode Island: Marijuana Decriminalization Measure Signed Into Law

RI Governor Lincoln ChafeeProvidence, RI: Governor Lincoln Chafee, an Independent, last week signed legislation into law that significantly reduces the penalties associated with the possession of marijuana for personal use.

Under the new law, the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana by an individual 18 years or older is amended from a criminal misdemeanor (punishable by one year in jail and a $500 maximum fine) to a non-arrestable civil offense – punishable by a $150 fine, no jail time, and no criminal record.

Rhode Island’s decriminalization law takes effect on April 1, 2013.

Rhode Island is one of 15 states that have reduced marijuana possession to a fine-only offense.

Eight states – California, Colorado, Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, Nebraska, New York, and Oregon – similarly define the private, non-medical possession of marijuana by adults as a civil, non-criminal offense.

Five additional states – Minnesota, Mississippi, Nevada, North Carolina, and Ohio – treat marijuana possession offenses as a fine-only misdemeanor offense. Alaska imposes no criminal or civil penalty for the private possession of small amounts of marijuana.

For more information, please contact Allen St. Pierre, NORML Executive Director, at (202) 483-5500 or Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director, at: paul@norml.org.