R.I. Lawmaker Again Seeks Decriminalization Of Marijuana

Rep. John G. Edwards (D-Tiverton) has again introduced legislation to decriminalize possession of up to an ounce of marijuana in Rhode Island.

Possession of any amount of marijuana is currently a criminal offense, punishable by up to a year in jail and $500 fine, reports Katherine Gregg at The Providence Journal.
Under Edwards’ proposal which he is introducing for the second year in a row, possession of an ounce or less of pot would instead be a civil offense, subject to a $150 fine.
“My intent with this legislation remains the same: to provide some relief to the taxpayers of our state,” Edwards said. “In these difficult times, we must look for ways to cut costs wherever we can.
“Rhode Islanders should not be footing the bill to keep people in jail due to simple possession charges,” Edwards said. “It’s a huge waste of taxpayer dollars.”

According to Edwards, making the penalty for an ounce or less of marijuana a civil offense rather than a criminal offense would also spare people — especially young adults — from having a criminal record that could potentially make it difficult to get a good job.
“A youthful indiscretion should not be something that ruins a person’s chance to become a teacher, fireman or even volunteer in a child’s classroom,” he said.
“It still amazes me that this is even an issue,” commented “Average Joe” on the Journal‘s website.
“Coming from a person who does not smoke marijuana, I think that it should be legal altogether.”
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