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Rhode Island General Assembly Overwhelmingly Decriminalizes Possession Of Marijuana

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rhode island marijuanaRhode Island General Assembly Overwhelmingly Decriminalizes Possession Of Small Amounts Of Marijuana

Earlier this evening, June 5, 2012, the Rhode Island General Assembly overwhelming approved twin bills that would — for most offenses — remove the threat of jail time for the simple possession of marijuana. The companion bills — S2253/H7092 — would replace the current criminal charge for simple possession — up to a year in jail and/or up to a $500 fine — with a $150 civil offense.

Individuals under the age of 18 would be subject to the same civil violation and would also be required to attend a drug education course as well as perform community service. A third marijuana possession offense within 18 months could result in a misdemeanor conviction punishable by up to 30 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $500. The twin bills must now each get a vote in the other legislative chamber. Then, they will go to Gov. Lincoln Chafee to sign into law, veto, or allow to become law without his signature.

Harvard economist Jeffrey Miron estimated that this proposal could save the state of Rhode Island up to $11 million dollars annually. In addition, allowing law enforcement to issue a simple citation as opposed to making an arrest for marijuana possession will free up law enforcement time to prevent, investigate, and solve crimes of violence and against property. Finally, by ending the draconian practice of criminalizing simple possession, many Ocean Staters will be spared from being labeled criminals for non-violent behavior — a label that carries a host of terrible collateral consequences.

While today’s votes are indeed great news, MPP and our allies’ work is not done. Chafee has stated that he’ll review the bill once it hits his desk. If you live in Rhode Island, please let Gov. Chafee know about the many benefits that enactment of this legislation can confer upon his state and the people who reside in it. Fourteen states have already removed the threat of jail time for the simple possession of marijuana and there have been no deleterious consequences: the sky’s still blue, the water still wet, and the use rates just as varied in those states that have decriminalized marijuana possession compared to those that have not. Meanwhile, the states have saved hundreds of millions of dollars and tens of thousands of adults have been spared a humiliating arrest for using a substance that is safer than alcohol.

Source: Marijuana Policy Project

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  • This is a good step in the right direction.

  • MikeParent

    Marijuana, the 21st Century Bogey Man.  After looking at the Polls, politicians aren’t as “Asacred”  as they used to be.  End Marijuana prohibition and all the harm and waste it causes!

  • Sk8t3rk1dd

    This will be the best thing to happen to Rhode Island in the longest time.

  • Faith

    i bet this is going to affect Rhode island’s tourism positive :) http://get6packabsnowathome.blogspot.com

  • Faith

    i bet this going to affect Rhode island tourism very well :) http://get6packabsnowathome.blogspot.com/

  • It is indeed great news to hear of these bills  being passed in progressive states like Rhode island and others, I would like to encourage gov. Chafee to please sign this landmark bill into law. I live in kentucky,but completely agree with these bills