Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee signs marijuana decriminalization bill

Today, Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee (I) signed legislation (PDF) into law that will reform how Rhode Island penalizes the simple possession of up to an ounce of marijuana (PDF). Currently, simple possession can be penalized with a criminal misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail and/or a $200-$500 criminal fine. Under the provisions of the new law – which will take effect on April 1, 2013 – most violations of possession of up to an ounce of marijuana will be penalized with a simple civil fine of $150!

Rhode Island is the 15th state to remove the threat of jail time for the simple possession of marijuana. Other states are considering enacting similar laws or improving their existing ‘decriminalization’ laws. Where one stands on marijuana policy has become a deciding issue at the polls lately, and support for reform is winning out. Colorado and Washington will vote on measures to tax and regulate the marijuana market like alcohol come November. It’s becoming more and more clear that supporting sensible marijuana policy reform is mainstream politics.

While MPP is definitely pleased by the progress made in Rhode Island, we are not finished with our work in the state. In addition to leading the lobbying effort to pass medical marijuana, compassion centers, compassion center amendments, and the decriminalization law, MPP is spearheading an effort to tax and regulate marijuana distribution in Rhode Island in a manner similar to alcohol. We have wonderful bill sponsors and support from the voters of the Ocean State (PDF), and we’re determined to end marijuana prohibition in Rhode Island and beyond!

16 thoughts on “Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee signs marijuana decriminalization bill”

  1. I’m very happy to hear that you have a great governor, who obviously believes that marijuana possesion should not be treated as a criminal offense. Drugs should be treated as a medical issue, not a government issue. I am in Wisconsin and have a feeling our newly appointed governor, Scott Walker (R) is not so free on that issue!
    I’m disappointed at President Obama’s failed trip to talk about decriminalization with other nations. I wish he would see that so much money is being wasted on the “war against drug” when the money could be used for education and treatment. Hurray for your governor!

  2. Any way we can get it into one of social programs that don’t seem to stop popping up? Much better use of our tax dollars than the black hole the whole defense department thinks is for invading other countries. Isn’t defense when someone attacks you and protect yourself? I’m confused….but then again, Mary Jane says it’s ok, we’ll be together soon!

  3. Oh, right….good job on the homefront MPP! You really are doing a service for your country. I’m not just saying that either, it’s one step to rolling back our expansive government

  4. Still is BS that they’ll be able to yank $150 plus probably another $150 in various “court costs”, but it’s better than the alternative. Hopefully the next step is full legalization.

  5. Taxing pot makes more sense since we are broke. Why they tax alcohol, and alcohol is far worse legal to buy. Look at all the lives alcohol destroys, not so with Marijuana. We could very well get out of debt taxing pot. Never heard of a stoned pot head killing people while driving a car. Can’t say the say for alcohol. It is the lesser of two evils. True not everyone agree’s but the war on pot is costly and could be used for a more productive avenue! Let the folks decide!

  6. I want to give a little shout-out to NORML here, if it’s not in appropriate.

    The propriety of medical marijuana is indisputable and almost obvious. But, at some point, we have to get around to the “nut” of the moral issue: do adults have a right to choose their own form of private recreation, provided they don’t harm others?

    NORML says it straight: some adults like to smoke cannabis. Those that do should be entitled to that choice. People who dislike cannabis shouldn’t smoke it. The second group should not imprison the former.

    I’m not going to pretend that democratic politics is simply “a contest of ideas.” It’s not. Police unions, correctional guards’ unions, and private for-profit prison corporations, the federal drug bureaucracy etc. don’t play fair.

    But we’re going to have to win the moral fight. This is about treating adults like adults.

    Honesty is on our side. Let’s fight for the rights of people to do peaceful things in private. We must have the courage of our convictions.

  7. Thank you for all your hard work all these many years.

    The only thing these prohibitionists understand is how it’s affecting their budgets. With a lackluster economy and big-ass pension increases, they are looking to get money wherever they can. Before the shit hit the fan every rationale thinking person knew that cannabis prohibition was an ongoing failure, but as long as we still had all this money they just kept chugging along to avoid the work of actually modernizing the war on drugs to the war on drugs after marijuana legalization. Now that money isn’t there anymore, and people are of the mind that it’s still an ongoing failure but now we don’t have the money to waste on it anymore. So now politicians and levels of government are looking for ways to cuts costs and up the revenue in the public coffers. You can’t fuckin’ have it both ways. The feds are fuckin’ everything up with their raids and lame-ass lies to justify them (in MMJ states). The feds need to be neutralized, DEA disallowed, not permitted spending any money on cannabis prohibition in MMJ states.

    Barry, it’s clear that MMJ states have indicated that they are able to completely take over cannabis enforcement in their states. State and local law enforcement authorities will contact feds if they need the feds to go in with them. Feds need to give state and local law enforcement authorities information they have of violations of state and local laws, and then state and local handle it on their own or decide if they want the feds in on the raid or hauling in most of the firepower. Other than if asked by state law enforcement, the feds need to stay the fuck out of cannabis enforcement.

    Now some states are just so fucked up that they’ll be the last to legalize. I’m thinking of Pennsylvania. Governor Corbett and his bunch won’t tax some forms of tobacco products or Marcellus Shale at all. He dragged out the grand jury information gathering in the Jerry Sandusky case long enough for him and JoePa and who the hell else to put things in their wife’s and kids’ names and in trust funds so that they would be untouchable by the courts. The whole situation stinks, and Corbett was state Attorney General before he became governor and arrests were actually made, yaddi, yaddi, yaddi. Centre County (the county Penn State is in) Distict Attorney Ray Gricar disappeared on mysterious circumstances. Is he living a new life somewhere else or are his remains somewhere where they are never likely to be found. There’s no body found! And, Tommy Boy is giving Shell a $1.7 million tax break for building a plant to process the shale oil and gas in Pittsburgh. Shell, poor babies, making fuckin’ billions in profits every fuckin’ year really needs that tax break. Shit yeah! Some of the money somehow is going to legally find its way into Corbett’s campaign coffers and probably also the library or whatever is built to honor him.

    I saw there are all these fall ballot initiatives and referendums on for the fall election, and what do you know? Fox News’s Bob Beckel gave his analysis that they won’t pass and that they’re there just to get the single-issue cannabis voters to vote for Obama, basically. See it’s a milktoast like Obama who isn’t getting the feds out of the way who prolongs this agony. Will the budget run dry when the automatic cuts hit federal programs this January? Again see, it’s people like Corbett, the prohibitionist ilk who will never legalize cannabis until they have no other choice.

    Keep running the economy into the ground until cannabis is legalized.

  8. Its time to end prohibition. It’s time to legalize marijuana. We’re lucky to have groups like mpp in our corner. The state of Georgia will be last to legalize. They say they never will either.

  9. 9/10- It’s that time again. I usually finish all my work and like to sit back and relax and smoke a little herb. I thank everyone who makes that possible. Would love to be able to grow my own!!!! Peace to all and to all a good night………….

  10. I am so relieved at what is going on around the states as they are waking up the great potential of marijuana. I live in Chicago and they will be working on decriminalizing marijuana here. They will be taking a vote on it next week.

    Peace!

  11. Pot prohibition is a toy that should be taken away from the right-wing. They have had their fun long enough – it’s time to grow up! Good work Rhode Island!

  12. Generalization will get you nowhere, I am right wing and still support marijuana legalization. I also am friends with people who some say are left wing, who are against legalization of hemp. How about addressing the issues, because it is the individual that pulls the voting lever, so don’t lump me with any group, please….

  13. southernman makes a good point. Ending marijuana prohibition is, at it’s core, conservative politics. You hear all the time from the right about ‘big government,’ well, there’s no bigger government than the one that comes into your home – lots of times guns blazing – all because you happen to enjoy a recreational intoxicant that has less harmful effects than alcohol.

    People from all walks of political life – the left, the right, the center – support ending marijuana prohibition. It’s counter-intuitive to drive a needless wedge – like partisan bickering – between our supporters. It’s still a long and hard road we have to walk in order to end the marijuana prohibition but it will be much easier if we have support from all walks of life.

    Thanks for reading.

  14. states need to wise up and just legalize and believe me from my personal experience i know medical uses from drug uses, i can’t have dr drugs and feel better, it makes me too sick but if i’m forced to go to the streets the feds have done it.

  15. to southernman, you are awsome, i also am right winger and i fully support marijuana legalization 100% thank you for making a stand

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