Rhode Island Senators File Drug Decriminalization Bill

MJ moment

Six Rhode Island senators introduced legislation last week that would end criminal penalties for possessing small amounts of drugs and instead impose a $100 civil fine, the latest state-level effort to stop imprisoning people for simple drug possession offenses. The bill, S. 604, was introduced the same day Rhode Island Gov. Dan McKee (D) unveiled a plan to legalize marijuana for adult use through his 2022 budget proposal. Earlier last week, legislative leaders introduced their own measure to legalize and regulate commercial sales of cannabis. The separate Senate drug decriminalization bill would not legalize the substances, but it would significantly reduce penalties for possessing them. Under current state law, possession is classified as a crime and subject to up to three years imprisonment and as much as $5,000 in fines. A criminal record brings another set of consequences, often denying access to employment, education, housing and public services. S. 604 would replace those penalties with a $100 civil fine and no threat of jail time. The bill also bars law enforcement from arresting people for possessing drugs, although individuals could still be arrested if they fail to truthfully identify themselves to police for a citation. Fines would double if not paid within 30 days and double again after 90 days. The substances themselves would stay illegal under the proposal, subject to seizure if found. State laws against manufacturing, distributing or possessing with the intent to distribute would also remain in place. The measure includes a few other policy changes, such as lowering the state’s fine for people between 17 and 18 years old caught with less than an ounce of marijuana to $100, down from the current $150 fine. It also specifies that people caught possessing drugs could be subject to performing up to 100 hours of community service or completing…

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Source : Rhode Island Senators File Drug Decriminalization Bill

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