Rhode Island Governor Signs Marijuana Decriminalization Bill

Gov. Lincoln D. Chafee has signed legislation to decriminalize marijuana, making Rhode Island the 15th state in the nation to sign similar legislation.

The legislation, sponsored by Sen. Joshua Miller (D-Dist. 28, Cranston, Warwick) and Representative John G. Edwards (D-Dist. 70, Tiverton, Portsmouth), eliminates the criminal charge for carrying 1 ounce or less of marijuana and instead impose a civil penalty of a $150 fine, plus forfeiture of the drug. A third offense within 18 months of the previous offense would be treated as a misdemeanor.

“I’m very happy the governor has decided to support this legislation,” said Representative Edwards. “I am hopeful that this will allow our law enforcement officials to do what they do best – solve real crimes. I’d also like to thank Senator Miller, who worked with me on this legislation and on the Senate study commission, and all the groups that helped us bring about this change.”

Senator Miller said there are some unique components to the new Rhode Island law that could eventually serve as a national model for decriminalization of marijuana.

“This legislation maintains the spirit of the policy with adjustments that factored in concerns from the judiciary, law enforcement officials and the community,” Senator Miller said. “That’s why we have the third strike turnover. If you possess an ounce or less within 18 months of a prior offense, it gets treated as a misdemeanor. Additionally, half of the revenue we make with these fines goes toward education and treatment programs for youth. The community much prefers to have our young people in those types of programs as opposed to incarceration, and it’s important that we preserve their access to education and employment. I’d also like to thank Representative Edwards. We couldn’t have done this without strong efforts from both sides of the rotunda.”

Under the provisions of the new law, offenders who are minors would also have to complete an approved drug awareness program and community service. The Rhode Island Traffic Tribunal would have jurisdiction over these cases. The law will go into effect on April 1, 2013.

– Read the entire article at Patch.com.



  1. Adam William Majkowski on

    I agree. It is a very small baby step away form the absolute wrong direction. Some rich morons who have control over Rhode Island agreed to lessen their choke hold on disabled people. The hand which does that choking still needs to be cut off as far as I am concerned. If you are choking some old lady, and I get you to loosen your grip for a second, I am still thinking about my chance to get your hand off that lady’s neck, and what I am going to do to you once she is clear.

  2. Catharine Leach on

    It’s rolling back the war on drugs

    We gotta start somewhere, baby steps, its a good start. It took three years to get it passed.

    I’m hopeful that Regulation & Legalization is next on our agenda.

    I’m proud to be a Rhode Islander. (That doesn’t happen very often if you know anything about Rhode Island)

    -Cat Leach

  3. Anonymous on

    While still not as good as giving adults a healthier legal alternative to alcohol, this will at least cut down on the number of lives needlessly ruined. Will it still be sold to children by unscrupulous and irresponsible predators? Of course – because it still won’t be regulated.

    Is the state still missing out on tax dollars that would be available if it were regulated like alcohol or tobacco? Of course.

    But still, there’s no denying this is a step away from the wrong direction.

    Way to go R.I.!