States began softening their stances on marijuana in the 1990's, during which California became the first state to legalize the medical use of the herb. Other states followed suit and also decriminalized the possession of small amounts for personal use (typically punished by a fine).
Eventually, a few states legalized the sale and use of recreational marijuana, contrary to federal drug prohibition laws (although the federal government has a "hands-off" approach to states that have chosen to legalize marijuana). Curiously, federal law still classifies marijuana as a Schedule I controlled substance -- alongside heroin and other hard drugs -- despite public opinion and published studies on its medical efficacy.
Marijuana laws vary greatly from one state to the next, with some states even imposing prison sentences for the possession of relatively small amounts. There are also broad differences in regulations among the states that have legalized medical and/or recreational use of the drug.
Rhode Island Marijuana Laws at a Glance
Rhode Island has both decriminalized marijuana and legalized access to the herb for medical purposes. Possession of less than 1 oz. is a civil offense (like a parking ticket) with a fine of up to $150, but a conviction for the sale or cultivation of more than 5 kg. can result in a term of life in prison.
Additional details about Rhode Island's current marijuana laws are listed in the following table. See FindLaw's Drug Charges and Patient Rights sections for more information.
||21-28-1.01, et seq.
||Less than 1 oz.: civil offense (max. $150 fine); more than 1 oz. but less than 1 kg.: misdemeanor (up to 1 yr., max. $500 fine); more than 1 kg. is considered intent to sell.
|Sale or Cultivation
||Less than 1 kg.: felony (up to 30 yrs., max. $100,000 fine); 1-5 kg.: 10-50 yrs. and/or $10,000-$500,000 (mandatory minimum 10 yr. sentence); more than 5 kg.: 20 yrs. to life and $25,000 to $1,000,000 (mandatory minimum 20 yr. sentence); Sale within 300 yds. of school: double penalties; Sale to minor or person 3 yrs. junior: minimum 2-5 yrs. and $10,000
|Is Medical Marijuana Available?
||Yes. Eligible patients with a physician's approval may possess up to 2.5 oz. of usable marijuana or up to 12 plants (indoor cultivation only).
Note: State laws change quite regularly through the enactment of new legislation, decisions from higher courts, and other means. You may want to contact a Rhode Island drug crime attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.
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Rhode Island Marijuana Laws: Related Resources