Rhode Island Representative John Edwards of Tiverton has introduced a bill, similar to the law of Massachusetts, to decriminalize minor marijuana possession. If the new law were to pass, possession of marijuana under one ounce would result in a $150 fine. Currently marijuana possession in Rhode Island is a misdemeanor with a maximum penalty of one year in prison.
Currently, 13 States, including Massachusetts, have decriminalized marijuana. This means that there is no criminal record (at least for first time offenders) and a possession charge is treated as a violation, similar to a speeding ticket. Criminal offenses still remain in effect for possession of large amounts of marijuana, intent to distribute, etc.
It seems that the Country is moving towards decriminalization of marijuana and it is about time for Rhode Island to join the ranks. Rhode Island spends millions of dollars prosecuting marijuana possession charges that ultimately result only in dismissal or probation. The laws create a permanent criminal record for young people that made a mistake by using weed unlawfully.