Marijuana Laws in Rhode Island
Like most states, Rhode Island has not decriminalized marijuana; however, Rhode Island was the 11th U.S. state to allow the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes.
Laws for marijuana use and possession
For non-medical users it is a crime to possess and use marijuana in Rhode Island. No amount of marijuana can be legally carried by non-medical users of the drug. Almost all charges carry a felony charge; the lone exception to this is possessing less than 1-kg, which counts as a misdemeanor.
Charges to expect in various scenarios
Possessing up to 1-kg of marijuana can result in up to a year in prison and/or a fine of between $200 to $500. If you are caught with between 1 to 5-kgs of the drug you may receive up to 10-years in prison and up to $500,000 in fines. Possessing over 5-kgs of marijuana can result in up to 20-years in jail, and between $25,000 to $100,000 in fines.
Selling or cultivating marijuana carries an entirely separate and more severe list of penalties. Selling up to 1-kg of the drug can result in as much as 30-years in prison and a $100,000 fine.
Selling between 1 to 5-kgs can result in up to a 10-year prison sentence and up to $500,000 in fines. Selling or cultivating more than this carries a prison sentence of up to 20-years and between $25,000 to $100,000 worth of fines.
With all marijuana related penalties the punishment will be doubled if the infraction happens within 300 yards of a school, public park or a playground. Providing marijuana to a minor can carry a sentence of 2 to 5-years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
Driving while under the influence or in the possession of marijuana can result in up to a 6-month suspension of an individual’s license to drive. This penalty would reach up to a year for a repeat offence.
Possible legislation that could change marijuana laws in the near future
Decriminalization of marijuana is currently one of the most hotly debated issues in Rhode Island. A legislative attempt to lessen penalties was denied as recent as 2010. The bill would have made it a civil offense to possess less than 1-oz of marijuana and made the penalty a $150 fine. It was estimated that this measure could save the state as much as $11 million per year on arrests, prosecution and jailing.
Medical marijuana in Rhode Island
In January of 2003, the Edward O. Hawkins and Thomas C. Slater Medical Marijuana Act was enacted in Rhode Island. The act allows a patient the use of marijuana should the benefits in relieving symptoms of an illness outweigh the potential adverse effects of using the drug. This act does not alter federal laws already in place governing the possession, use and transport of marijuana.
Applications for patients wishing to use marijuana for its medicinal benefits can be downloaded from the State of Rhode Island’s Department of Health’s website.