As of yesterday, April 1, 2013, possession of up to an ounce of marijuana is no longer subject to an arrest, a criminal charge, or the threat of jail time under Rhode Island law! Thanks to legislation sponsored by Sen. Josh Miller and Rep. John “Jay” Edwards and signed into law by Gov. Lincoln Chafee, individuals found in possession of up to an ounce of marijuana will now be given a civil citation of $150. Those under 18 will also have their parents notified and will be required to attend an alcohol and drug education course and perform community service. Third and subsequent violations within 18 months are still grounds for a misdemeanor.
This MPP-led effort is yet another step towards rational marijuana policy. Until marijuana is regulated and taxed similarly to alcohol, sales will remain uncontrolled, and they will continue to prop up drug cartels instead of legitimate Rhode Island businesses. Repealing criminal penalties for marijuana possession slows the bleeding, but repealing marijuana prohibition will heal the wound.
If you are a Rhode Island resident, please email your lawmakers and urge them to support the Marijuana Regulation, Control, and Taxation Act.