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Breaking: Rhode Island General Assembly Overwhelmingly Backs Marijuana Decriminalization Measures

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director June 5, 2012

    By a vote of more than 2 to 1, members of the Rhode Island General Assembly today approved legislation to significantly reduce the state’s criminal marijuana possession penalties.

    Members of the House and Senate passed twin bills, House Bill 7092 and Senate Bill 2253, which amend state law so that the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana by an individual 18 years or older is reduced from a criminal misdemeanor (punishable by one year in jail and a $500 maximum fine) to a non-arrestable civil offense — punishable by a $150 fine, no jail time, and no criminal record. You can read NORML’s testimony in favor of these measures here.

    House Bill 7092/Senate Bill 2253 now await concurrence votes, after which time they will be sent to Gov. Lincoln Chafee. [Update: In a radio interview this morning, Gov. Chafee stated that he is ‘inclined’ to sign the measures into law. Read the full summary of Chafee’s remarks here.] If you reside in Rhode Island, you can contact Gov. Chafee on behalf of these measures here.

    According to a 2012 statewide poll, commissioned by the Marijuana Policy Project, 65 percent of Rhode Island’s residents are in favor of decriminalization. In recent years, neighboring Connecticut (in 2011) and Massachusetts (in 2009, via a voter-approved initiative) have enacted similar marijuana decriminalization laws.

    Rhode Island lawmakers have previously approved legislation legalizing the possession and state-licensed distribution of cannabis for therapeutic purposes.

    Presently, in eight states — California, Colorado, Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, Nebraska, New York, and Oregon — the private, non-medical possession of marijuana by an adult is defined under the law as a civil, non-criminal offense.

    Five additional states — Minnesota, Mississippi, Nevada, North Carolina, and Ohio — treat marijuana possession offenses as a fine-only misdemeanor offense. Alaska law imposes no criminal or civil penalty for the private possession of small amounts of marijuana by adults.

    In all other states, marijuana possession for personal use remains a criminal offense — punishable by an arrest, potential incarceration, and a criminal record.

    41 responses to “Breaking: Rhode Island General Assembly Overwhelmingly Backs Marijuana Decriminalization Measures”

    1. Brandon says:

      Where is PA? PA lawmakers need to be held accountable when all the other states around us uphold decrim.

    2. skunkyfingers says:

      NEW YORK brings forward a bill to decriminalize marijuana and Rhode Island jumps on board? I hope this is a domino effect about to happen. It appears that it may be just that indeed. Fingers crossed. 🙂

    3. […] Breaking: Rhode Island General Assembly Overwhelmingly Backs Marijuana Decriminalization Measures By a vote of more than 2 to 1, members of the Rhode Island General Assembly today approved legislation to significantly reduce the state’s criminal marijuana possession penalties. Members of the House and Senate passed twin bills, House Bill 7092 and Senate Bill 2253, which amend state law so that the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana by an individual 18 years or older is reduced from a criminal misdemeanor (punishable by one year in jail and a $500 maximum fine) to a non-arrestable civil offense — punishable […] […]

    4. It’s progress but still….there shouldn’t be any penalties for possession .
      Meanwhile out in, California this guy, Rex Bohn is not hiding how he makes his living from what growers use exclusively for the growing of Marijuna ( at least in, Northern California ). Read on :

      Bohn appears to sweep 1st District Humboldt

      Rex Bohn, a raw materials locator for FoxFarm Soil and Fertilizer Company, appeared to have swept the race for the 1st District Humboldt County supervisor seat Tuesday night, garnering 63.82 percent of the vote in preliminary results, with former Wiyot Tribe Chairwoman Cheryl Seidner following at 28.73 percent and retired teacher Annette De Modena coming in third at 7.08 percent.

    5. John k. says:

      replay@vang

      Yup, watching the dominoes slowly fall recently, has put a huge boost of confidence in me vs prior when everything was at a stand still.

      This is moving much faster than I anticipated.

      How many more years anyone think for all 50 states to be fully legalized? 10-15 years maybe?

    6. aoneone says:

      [Paul Armentano responds: NORML provides a breakdown of state by state medical cannabis laws here: http://norml.org/legal/medical-marijuana-2.

      I went to that link but it says page not found

      [Editor’s note: Link works fine…]

    7. aoneone says:

      Thank you! So does this mean California is the most liberal of these 17 States? Or is it Colorado for Medical Marijuana? I’m very curious. I lived in California all my life but I want to make sure!

    8. Fireweed says:

      Can you feel the gravity shift as we reach the tipping point? Remember the Berlin wall and then the whole fall of communism? The whole pot prohibition thing could topple in similar dramatic fashion if just the one right thing happens….

    9. Hempster says:

      Where is Texas in this dealio. Texas wants the freedom too. I always prayed I would see this in my lifetime. Don’t hide it divide it!!!!!

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