Rhode Island’s six senators launched a legislation last week to terminate criminal penalties for possession of small drug amounts.
Instead, the reform would attach a $100 civil fine. This is a recent federal effort to end arrests and incarcerations of individuals for minor drug possession misdemeanors.
The S.604 reform was launched during the same day Dan McKee (Rhode Island Governor) introduced a proposal to authorize recreational cannabis via his 2022 spending plan. Leaders of the legislature unveiled their proposal early last week to control and legalize marijuana commercial sales.
Although the Senate’s separate drug decriminalization reform will not authorize the substances, it would reduce penalty fines for their possession. According to the current federal regulation, possession is illegal and punishable by three years in prison and fines of up to $5,000. A record of arrests or incarceration culminates in several consequences, such as difficulty getting employment, public, education, and housing services.
S.604 would reduce those penalties to $100 civil and zero jail time. It also prohibits police officers from arresting folks for drug possession. However, people might still be arrested if they don’t identify themselves truthfully to law enforcement for citations.
The civil fine would double in case it’s not paid within a month and doubles again at the end of three months.
Under the reform, the substances will still be illegal and will be confiscated if found. State regulations against possession, manufacturing, and distribution would still be in effect.
The initiative entails other bill amendments, including reducing the federal fine for folks who are between 17-18 years old to $100 from $150 who are caught possessing not more than an ounce of cannabis. It also states that caught in possession of drugs would be subject to 100 hours (4 days) of community service or complete an education or drug-counseling program.
On Thursday, the S.604 reform was unveiled by Senators Cynthia Mendes, Jeanine Calkin, Samuel Bell, Jonathon Acosta, Kendra Anderson, and Tiara Mack.