Adults (18+) caught with an ounce or less of marijuana would face a $150 fine but no criminal penalties. The bill up for review in the Rhode Island General Assembly. Votes on the proposals haven’t been scheduled.
More than a dozen states now make marijuana possession a civil violation rather than a criminal offense. Supporters say softer penalties for pot possession would allow police and prosecutors to target more serious crime.
Under the bill, it would remain illegal to be under the influence of marijuana while driving. It also remains a crime to smoke pot in schools, jails and certain other places.
Lawmakers are also considering a proposal to legalize and regulate adult recreational use of marijuana and subject it toregulations and taxes. The debate is the latest example of how states throughout New England and the rest of the country are re-examining marijuana and its role as medicine, recreational drug and revenue generator. More than a dozen states now make marijuana a civil violation rather than a criminal offense.