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Rhode Island’s Marijuana Laws R.I.G.L §21-28-4.01

The marijuana laws in Rhode Island have recently changed and there is reason to believe that more change is on the way. In April of 2013, Rhode Island decriminalized possession of an ounce or less of marijuana R.I.G.L §21-28-4.01. However, it still remains a crime to possess more than one ounce of marijuana. Because there is the possibility of long term consequences, you need an experienced attorney like Peter Calo to best represent you and your rights.

What is the difference between possession of less than an ounce and more than an ounce?

If someone is charged with possession of an ounce or less of marijuana they are facing a civil violation as opposed to possession of more than an ounce of marijuana, which is a criminal offense. The decriminalization of an ounce or less of marijuana does not mean it is legal. There is a difference between decriminalization and legalization. To decriminalize means to make something not a crime anymore, however it is still illegal. To legalize something means to make something completely legal. As with an ounce or less of marijuana, it is a civil violation, therefore it is not legal, it is just not criminal. (For example: Rhode Island has decriminalized the possession of an ounce or less of marijuana but Colorado has legalized it). It is important to know that possession of an ounce or less of marijuana can be a criminal offense if it is a third offense within 18 months. The law is also unsettled as far as whether or not the police may search a vehicle without a warrant based on the odor of burnt marijuana.  Click here for a information on searching motor vehicles. Therefore, should you be charged with possession of marijuana, no matter first offense or third offense, or amount, you need the experience of Attorney Peter Calo to best represent you. Contact him today for a free consultation.

What are the consequences for possession of marijuana?

Possession of an Ounce or Less:

  • Civil Violation
  • Cannot be physically arrested and brought to the police station
  • $150 fine for first offense and second offense
  • Ordered into Rhode Island Traffic Tribunal or can pay fine by mail
  • Fines may double and triple if not paid on time
  • Police must seal the record 18 months after the fine is paid
  • A third offense within an 18 month period may qualify as a criminal misdemeanor charge!
    • This would result in up to 30 days in jail and/or $200-$500 in fines

Possession of More than an Ounce:

  • Criminal Offense
  • Physically arrested and brought to the police station
  • Up to 1 year in jail and/or $200-$500 in fines