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Rhode Island Poised to Become 15th State to Decriminalize Marijuana

The Rhode Island House and Senate voted overwhelmingly in support of two bills to decrease penalties for small marijuana possession in the state.

The bills (which passed 50 to 24 in the House and 28 to 6 in the Senate) now await a vote in their opposite chamber before heading to Gov. Chafee, who said he was ‘inclined’ to sign it.

The new law would decriminalize possession of up to an ounce of marijuana, making it a civil offense punishable by a $150 fine. Under current law, possession of any amount of marijuana is a misdemeanor and could put you behind bars for up to a year with a fine of up to $500.

The law would go into effect on April 1, 2013, and make Rhode Island the 15th state to decrease penalties for marijuana possession.

From this effort in Rhode Island, to NY Gov. Cuomo’s call to decriminalize marijuana in public view and the fight for medical marijuana there, to the recent victory for patients in Connecticut, to the strong ballot initiatives in Colorado, Washington, Massachussetts and elsewhere, 2012 is shaping up to be a big year for marijuana reform.

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Brian Nam-Sonenstein

Brian Nam-Sonenstein

Publishing Editor at Shadowproof and columnist at Prison Protest.