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Rhode Island Senate Committee Holds Hearing To Discuss Marijuana Decriminalization

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Rhode Island Marijuana LeavesBy Randal Edgar

Seated before the Senate Judiciary Committee Tuesday, Catharine Leach of Warwick described herself as a wife, a mother and a PTA member.

She also described herself as a marijuana user, one who has used it daily for more than 10 years.

“Look at me, and tell me I should go to jail,” she said.

The 29-year-old office manager was one of nine people to testify in favor of a bill that would decriminalize possession of up to an ounce of marijuana, adding Rhode Island to a list of about a dozen states that have softened their penalties for use of a drug that some argue should be treated like alcohol.

“It’s like coming home and having a glass of wine after a hard day,” Leach said, except that she risks going to jail, while “the drunks don’t go to jail for their vice.”

Fairness was a key theme for many who spoke. Some talked of the legal cloud that follows those who are arrested for marijuana use. Others spoke of higher arrest rates for minorities, even though marijuana use in many instances appears to be higher among whites.

“You can’t separate race from the drug war,” said Bruce Reilly, of Direct Action for Rights and Equality, who said it is time for the war on drugs to be scaled back.

“If we can’t scale back over a bag of weed, we’re not going to scale it back anywhere,” he said.

Read more at http://www.projo.com

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