Rhode Island Decriminalizes Minor Marijuana Possession

On June 13th, 2012, Rhode Island Governor Chafee signed into law a bill that will decriminalize marijuana possession for amounts up to one ounce.  According to this bill, individuals caught with less than an ounce of marijuana will be subject to a $150 fine, similar to a ticket.

The law will take effect on April 1, 2013.  As part of Rhode Island’s efforts to support rehabilitative and preventative policies, one half of the collected fines will be directed towards drug awareness and drug treatment programs for Rhode Island minors.

While this law will loosen the sanctions on adults who are caught with marijuana as a first time offense, individuals who are issued this $150 sanction three times within eighteen months will be subject to increased fines, misdemeanor charges, and possible prison time.

However, until April 2013 the laws on marijuana possession will maintain the status quo, and even possession of a small amount of marijuana can result in an arrest and a time-consuming, embarrassing, and costly battle with the justice system.