PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) -- A bill to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana will take effect on Monday.
In January of 2011, state Representative John Edwards reintroduced said bill, which would call for fines of $150 for marijuana possession of one ounce or less instead of the original penalty of $500 plus up to a year in prison.
The bill was approved by the Senate and the House in 2012 and signed into law by Governor Chafee last June, and, on Monday, it will officially take effect throughout the state of Rhode Island.
The Ocean State will join 13 other states across the country that have adopted marijuana decriminalization laws. In February, local lawmakers introduced additional bills to regulate and tax legal sale of marijuana in Rhode Island, a motion that was passed in Colorado and Washington this past election year.
"We applaud the legislature and Governor Chafee for answering Rhode Islanders' calls for a more sensible marijuana policy," said Robert Capecchi, Deputy Director of State Policies for the Marijuana Policy Project. "Nobody should be subject to life-altering criminal penalties simply for using a substance that is objectively less harmful than alcohol."
With the new laws in place, criminal penalties for simple marijuana possession will be similar to those of traffic violations.
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