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Rhode Island marijuana laws are constantly changing and evolving every single year. Less than 10 years ago, any marijuana possession was a criminal offense and could subject a person to criminal prosecution.
A criminal marijuana charge could be brought for simple possession of marijuana, possession with intent to deliver marijuana, delivery of marijuana, and cultivation of marijuana.
Today, Rhode Island medical marijuana law legalizes cannabis possession for eligible patients and a primary caregiver , and has established marijuana legalization for possession of cannabis in small amounts, for personal use and recreational use.
This is why it is critical to have legal representation by an experienced and knowledgeable RI criminal defense attorney if you have been charged with any marijuana drug possession case.
Rhode Island law enforcement arrests or tickets more people for criminal marijuana offenses and civil marijuana offenses than for any other controlled substance drug possession crime.
In fact, the Providence Journal reported that Rhode Islanders use more cannabis than anywhere else in the country. Twenty percent of people in Rhode Island said they possessed and used recreational marijuana in the last year.
Often, possession of cannabis in a motor vehicle can also lead to DUI charge as well if the police believe a person is driving under the influence of marijuana, under DUI law.
Penalties for marijuana offenses in Rhode Island can be harsh. Depending on the criminal drug possession charges against you, the potential penalties under Rhode Island marijuana laws include jail, fines, suspended sentence, probation and community service.
RI prosecutors take these cannabis charges seriously and your defense attorney should too. If you have been charged with a marijuana misdemeanor or felony, you want the best legal representation you can find.
A knowledgeable and experienced criminal defense lawyer will give you the best chance at defeating the criminal prosecution and help you avoid a criminal record.
These marijuana possession offenses are commonly referred to as a “simple possession” drug charge, and are NOT considered criminal offenses under Rhode Island marijuana laws, and do not subject a person to criminal court or criminal prosecution.
A first offense or second offense cannabis possession charge of up to one ounce by an individual 18 years or older is a civil violation, punishable by a $150 fine, no jail time, community service and no criminal record.
However, a third offense marijuana charge within 18 months is considered a misdemeanor drug possession crime which could result in jail and community service.
Possession of 1 ounce to 1 kilogram of marijuana is a misdemeanor marijuana crime which is punishable by a maximum of 1 year imprisonment, community service, a maximum fine of $500, and results in a criminal record requiring expungement at some point in the future.
Legal representation and legal advice by an experienced and aggressive criminal defense attorney gives you the best chance at avoiding these penalties for simple marijuana possession in District Court.
If you have been arrested by police and charged with possession of marijuana with the intent to distribute you are in immediate need of the best Rhode Island marijuana lawyer.
Not all criminal defense attorneys are the same, not even close, and the outcome of RI marijuana cases vary greatly depending on your criminal defense attorney’s effectiveness, or ineffectiveness.
These drug possession cases are considered felony narcotics offenses, and are taken very seriously by law enforcement, prosecutors and courts.
If the police have charged you with possession of marijuana with the intent to distribute they are basically charging you with being a drug dealer in that you possessed a large amount of cannabis and intended to distribute that marijuana to others:
Given the progress made with RI’s medical marijuana law (see below), many people are now legally cultivating their own medical cannabis plants for medical use or recreational use.
Inevitably, people are unfamiliar with the limitations to growing marijuana in the law, and end up being arrested for possession of too many cannabis plants.
If the police or law enforcement has charged you with the sale, delivery or cultivation of marijuana it is critical to hire an experienced RI marijuana attorney.
I have handled marijuana law and marijuana cases for 27+ years in every courthouse in the state of Rhode Island.
A knowledgeable and experienced marijuana lawyer will give you the best legal advice and the best chance of defeating these drug crimes and avoid any jail time on these serious felony drug offenses, and protect your criminal record.
Many defense attorneys are not as familiar with the details of criminal law and marijuana crimes, or simply do not have the background and experience to provide you with the aggressive legal representation required in felony marijuana sale, delivery or cultivation cases.
Hashish, marijuana edibles and marijuana concentrates fall under the definition of cannabis.
There are many ways a skilled and experienced Rhode Island marijuana defense lawyer can defend your marijuana possession case.
All criminal defense attorneys are NOT the same, and the outcome in your marijuana criminal case can vary greatly depending on the effectiveness, or ineffectiveness, of your criminal defense lawyer.
I have been handling RI marijuana cases for 27+ years as both a prosecutor and a marijuana defense lawyer and this experience has allowed me a wealth of knowledge and strategies simply unavailable to the average RI criminal attorney.
Many RI marijuana possession cases and criminal charges begin with law enforcement obtaining a search warrant from a judge for a location, motor vehicle or person whom they suspect of marijuana possession, marijuana possession with intent to distribute or cultivation of marijuana.
The police must present a sworn affidavit to a judge which details the investigation and reasons why they are seeking the warrant in order to obtain the search warrant.
An experienced and aggressive criminal defense lawyer knows how to attack search warrant requests, the structure and inconsistencies of the warrant and the execution of the warrant.
RI criminal law provides many strategies for a marijuana attorney to defend your criminal case by attacking the validity of the search warrant.
Rhode Island law enforcement officials also make numerous marijuana arrests after stopping motor vehicles for traffic infractions.
An experienced and knowledgeable criminal defense attorney knows the ins and outs of RI search and seizure law and can successfully have the marijuana suppressed (thrown out of court) as a result of an illegal stop or an illegal search of the motor vehicle by police.
In fact, Rhode Island law enforcement is well-known for setting up surveillance posts on route 95 in order to try and catch marijuana distributors.
As a criminal defense lawyer with 27+ years of experience with RI marijuana law and marijuana criminal charges, there is nothing I have not seen or defended in District Court or Superior Court.
Check out motor vehicle stops to see more information about Rhode Island State Police motor vehicle stops on route 95 which led to marijuana possession distribution arrests.
Given recent changes in societal views on marijuana legalization and recreational marijuana use, many states including Rhode Island have enacted medical cannabis use laws, and recreational cannabis use laws, allowing the medical use and recreational use of cannabis for persons holding a medical marijuana card. This is the first step toward marijuana legalization.
This medical marijuana use law allows a RI medical marijuana cardholder to possess cannabis for recreational use and/or cultivate marijuana in order to treat a serious medical problem.
This law is a defense to any law enforcement allegation of criminal activity involving marijuana possession. However, this law is complicated and very restricted.
An experienced and skillful criminal defense attorney can provide the expert legal advice to make this process much easier to navigate, including acquiring a medical marijuana card or becoming a primary caregiver.
You can read the full RI medical cannabis law, but the main points are bulleted below.
As you can see, the RI medical marijuana law has a lot of moving parts and a medical cannabis patient could easily run afoul of all of these regulations and end up with a criminal case or fraud charge.
Having worked with this medical marijuana law since its beginning, I have the necessary knowledge and experience as a criminal defense attorney to provide your best marijuana defense.
It is actually a pretty easy process to become a medical marijuana patient. First, you must have a qualifying medical condition to become a medical cannabis patient.
This is the list of qualifying medical conditions accepted under Rhode Island’s medical marijuana law, with the majority citing chronic pain:
If you have one of these qualifying conditions for the medical marijuana license, a doctor must then prescribe marijuana as a treatment for that condition.
If your doctor is reluctant to prescribe medical marijuana as a treatment, clients of my law firm have utilized outside companies such as Canna Care, who have doctors ready to prescribe medical marijuana to appropriate medical marijuana patients. Check out this link to Canna Care.