The legal implications of marijuana have evolved over the past several years. Historically, marijuana was always listed, treated, prosecuted and punished like all other drugs listed in the Rhode Island criminal law and Uniformed Controlled Substances Act. This changed with the advent of medical marijuana laws in Rhode Island, and most recently the decriminalization of the substance in a quantity of one ounce or less.
Under Rhode Island Criminal law, Possession and Possession with Intent to Deliver Marijuana may be found under the Uniform Controlled Substances Act at Rhode Island General Laws, Chapter 21, Title 28.
The penalties for marijuana-related offenses is contingent on quantity of marijuana and the intent of its possessor. Possession of one ounce or less is a civil offense punishable solely by payment of a civil financial assessment of $150. Simple possession of more than one ounce of marijuana is considered a misdemeanor and punishment by up to one year in jail and/or $1000 fine.
Possession with intent to deliver marijuana is considered a felony and depending upon quantity involved, may be punished by a jail term of years up to life imprisonment.
What about Medical Marijuana
The laws pertaining to medical marijuana are found under Rhode Island General Laws, Chapter 21, Title 28.6, known as the Medical Marijuana Act (MMA). Under the Rhode Island Medical Marijuana Act, a qualifying patient cardholder who has in his or her possession a valid medical marijuana card will not be subject to arrest, prosecution, or penalty in any manner for the medical use of marijuana.
The cardholder may not possess an amount of marijuana exceeding twelve (12) mature marijuana plants and twelve (12) immature marijuana plants or two and one-half ounces (2.5 oz.) of dried medical marijuana. The plants also must be accompanied by valid medical marijuana plant tags.
The plants and marijuana produced may only be grown, stored, manufactured, and processed in accordance with regulations set forth by the Rhode Island Department of Business Regulation. Failure to comply with any of these rules or regulations may result in the loss of the legal protections afforded to the medical marijuana cardholder under the Rhode Island Medical Marijuana Act.
Potential Punishment if Convicted of a Marijuana Offense
Marijuana offenses may be a civil violation, a misdemeanor crime or a felony crime under Rhode Island law. Again, the nature of offense and potential punishment is based upon on the quantity of marijuana involved. It is a civil violation to possess one ounce or less of marijuana by a person age 18 or older for a first or second shall result in a civil assessment of $150 and forfeiture of the marijuana. If the person is age 17, but less than age 18 years, the defendant must also complete a drug-awareness program and community service. These penalties may be found at Rhode Island General Laws, Section 21-28-4.01.
Criminal penalties for marijuana offenses vary by quantity possessed and the intent of the possessor. Possession of more than one ounce of marijuana is a misdemeanor and a person may face up to a year in prison. Upon conviction for manufacturing, delivering or possession with intent to manufacture or deliver marijuana, of a quantity of one kilogram but no more than five kilograms, the defendant shall be sentenced up to a term of 50 years in prison. If the quantity is more than five kilograms, the defendant shall be sentenced to a term of up to life in prison.
If you have been charged with a Marijuana offense and need experienced Rhode Island Drug Defense Lawyers call (401) 351-5100 to schedule a free consultation with the Law Office of John L. Calcagni III.