States began softening their stances on marijuana in the 1990s, 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 the medical and/or recreational use of the drug.
Rhode Island Cannabis Laws at a Glance
Rhode Island has legalized the adult use of cannabis. Smoking cannabis is legal everywhere cigarettes are permitted. The maximum amount an adult can possess on their person is one ounce. Dispensaries that were previously able to only sell medical-use cannabis can now sell recreational-use cannabis. Any civil violations, misdemeanors, or felony convictions for cannabis possession that is now legal under Rhode Island law will be expunged pursuant to the Rhode Island Cannabis Act.
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.
|21-28.11-1., et seq.
- Adults 21 and older may:
- Possess or purchase up to one ounce of cannabis;
- Possess up to 10 ounces of cannabis in their home;
- Possess up to five grams of cannabis concentrate (not including the weight of any ingredient combined with the concentrate); and
- Transfer up to one ounce of cannabis to another adult
- Possession of 1 ounce to 1 kg is a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail and a $500 fine
- Possession of 1-5 kg with intent to distribute is a felony punishable by 10-50 years in prison and a $500,000 fine (double penalty possible if within 300 yards of a school)
- Possession of more than 5kg with intent to distribute is a felony punishable by 25 years to life in prison and a $100,000 fine (double penalty possible if within 300 yards of a school)
- Cultivate up to three mature cannabis plants in the home, along with three additional immature plants.
|Is Medical Marijuana Available?
|Yes. Eligible patients with a physician's approval may possess up to 2.5 oz. of usable cannabis or up to 12 plants and 12 seedlings (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