The marijuana decriminalization law, passed by the general assembly last summer and signed into law by Governor Chafee, will take effect on the first nanosecond of Monday, April 1st. Possession of small amounts of marijuana will no longer carry criminal penalties in Rhode Island. The indispensable Robert Capecchi of the Marijuana Policy Project has the facts in a nutshell.
S-2253/H-7092, sponsored by Sen. Josh Miller and Rep. John “Jay” Edwards and signed into law by Gov. Lincoln Chafee last June, replaces criminal penalties for possession of up to one ounce of marijuana with a $150 civil fine similar to a traffic ticket. If the offender is under the age of 18, his or her parents or legal guardians will be notified and he or she will be required to complete an alcohol and drug education course, as well as perform community service, in addition to the fine. Fifty percent of the fines collected by the Rhode Island Traffic Tribunal will be directed toward drug education and treatment programs.
The Providence Journal ran a related story today — “New law may boost drug use, chiefs say.” May? Why didn’t the chiefs look into it and find out? The news might have put their minds at ease. Forbes magazine reports, “Ten years ago, Portugal decriminalized all drugs. One decade after this unprecedented experiment, drug abuse is down by half.”
Press conference to celebrate, noon, Monday, April 1st, Rhode Island State House, Smith Street