Rhode Island Criminal Lawyer

Marijuana Charges in Rhode Island Explained

Mar, 03 2021 - By: S. Joshua Macktaz, Esq.
Marijuana Charges in Rhode Island Explained

Facing marijuana charges in Rhode Island?

The progressive changes that have come along with new marijuana laws in Rhode Island have sparked a lot of opportunities for residents, but they’ve also created a lot of confusion. It can be difficult to determine what’s legal and what’s illegal when it comes to marijuana possession and use.

With the constant dialogue amongst media and lawmakers regarding what’s currently happening and what might happen in the future of marijuana laws, it’s easy to face marijuana charges in Rhode Island without even realizing you’re breaking the law. That’s why it’s important to understand our current marijuana laws, penalties, and what to do if you’re facing marijuana charges in Rhode Island

What are the current marijuana laws in Rhode Island?

The two most important things you need to know right now about marijuana laws in Rhode Island are that (1) marijuana has been decriminalized and (2) marijuana is legal for medicinal purposes. While lawmakers often speak about passing marijuana legislation for recreational use in Rhode Island, those laws have not been passed yet. 

Decriminalization of Marijuana 

Just because marijuana has been decriminalized, you can still face marijuana charges in Rhode Island. Decriminalization means that there is no prison time for first-time offenders of possession of small amounts of marijuana.

Therefore, if you’re caught with up to one ounce of marijuana and you are 18 years old or older, you’ll be charged with a civil violation, which is often compared to a traffic ticket. These civil violations can result in fines up to $150, but no jail time and no criminal records.

Medicinal Marijuana Laws

Rhode Island state legislatures legalized marijuana for medicinal purposes. If you go through the appropriate channels, the Rhode Island Department of Health will permit you to purchase medicinal marijuana if you’re suffering from ailments such as cancer, glaucoma, HIV, AIDS, Hepatitis C, or other chronic illnesses. View the Rhode Island medical marijuana laws.

What are the penalties for marijuana charges in Rhode Island?

While small amounts of marijuana will result in civil violations, the penalties become much more severe if you’re possessing more than one ounce:

  • Penalties for marijuana charges for possession of 1 oz – 1 kg can lead to a misdemeanor charge, one year in jail, and a maximum fine of $500. 
  • Penalties for marijuana charges for possession of 1 – 5 kg will include intent to distribute charges, classify as a felony, leading to 10 – 50 years in prison, and fines up to $500,000. 
  • Penalties for marijuana charges for possession of more than 5 kg will include intent to distribute charges, classify as a felony, leading to 25 years to life in prison, and fines up to $100,000. 

You can also face marijuana charges if you’ve been caught selling or cultivating:

  • Less than 1 kg of marijuana, leading to a felony charge, 30 years in jail, and $100,000 in fines. 
  • 1 – 5 kg of marijuana, leading to a felony charge, 10-50 years in jail, and $500,000 in fines. 
  • More than 5 kg of marijuana leading to a felony charge, 20 years to life in prison, and $10,000 in fines. 

What is considered drug paraphernalia in Rhode Island?

Rhode Island Code Chapter 21-28.5 defines Possession Of Paraphernalia as the following: When a defendant possesses equipment or materials that produce or aid in using or cultivating controlled substances.

This means that you can face marijuana paraphernalia charges for anything that’s associated with using or growing marijuana such as marijuana growing kits, scales, balances, pipes, bongs, or grinders. 

What are the penalties for marijuana paraphernalia? 

If you’re arrested with marijuana paraphernalia, such as any of the materials mentioned above, you can face:

  • Up to $5,000 in fines and/or
  • Up to 2 years in prison

In addition, possession and delivery of marijuana paraphernalia to individuals under 18 can lead to:

  • Up to $5,000 in fines and/or
  • Up to 5 years in prison

How do I avoid marijuana charges in Rhode Island? 

In order to avoid marijuana charges in Rhode Island, it’s important to be constantly aware of the ever-changing marijuana laws. In addition, if you’d like to purchase medicinal marijuana, you must go through the lawful channels to do so.

Talk to your doctor and obtain the proper medical marijuana documentation to purchase marijuana legally. Remember that even after you acquire the legal documentation to purchase medical marijuana in Rhode Island, you have to purchase it through state-approved medicinal marijuana dispensaries.

You cannot simply purchase marijuana on the streets. Even if you’re a medical marijuana patient, you can still face marijuana charges in Rhode Island if you’re purchasing it through illegal means. 

What do I do if I’m facing marijuana charges in Rhode Island? 

If you’re facing marijuana charges in Rhode Island, it’s important to speak with a marijuana possession charges attorney as soon as possible. Your defense lawyer can help you understand the extent of your charges, formulate a defense, minimize your penalties, or even have your charges dropped. Contact an experienced marijuana defense attorney today to discuss your case.

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