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Rhode Island Marijuana Laws

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Penalty Details

Possession for Personal Use

Possession of marijuana up to one ounce by an individual 18 years or older is a civil violation, punishable by a $150 fine, no jail time, and no criminal record.

Possession of 1 ounce to 1 kilogram is a misdemeanor that is punishable by a maximum of 1 year imprisonment and a maximum fine of $500.

See

  • R.I. Gen. Laws § 21-28-4.01 (2015)
  • R.I. Gen. Laws § 21-28-2.08 (2015) 

Possession with Intent to Distribute

Possession of between 1-5 kilograms is a felony punishable by a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years and a maximum of 50 years imprisonment and a maximum fine of $500,000.

Possession of more than 5 kilograms is a felony punishable by a mandatory minimum sentence of 25 years and a maximum sentence of life imprisonment as well as a maximum fine of $100,000.

Sale or possession within 300 yards of a school may result in a doubling of the penalties.

Possession while driving will result in a driver’s license suspension for a period of 6 months.

See

  • R.I. Gen. Laws § 21-28-4.01 (2015)
  • R.I. Gen Laws § 21-28- 2.08 (2015) 

Sale or Cultivation

Sale or cultivation of less than 1 kilogram is a felony punishable by a maximum sentence of 30 years imprisonment and a maximum fine of $100,000.

Sale or cultivation of between 1-5 kilograms is punishable by a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years imprisonment and a maximum sentence of 50 years imprisonment as well as a maximum fine of $500,000.

Sale or cultivation of 5 kilograms or more is punishable by a mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years imprisonment and a maximum of life imprisonment as well as a maximum fine of $500,000.

Delivery to a minor at least three years younger than the offender carries with it the additional penalty of between 2-5 years imprisonment and a maximum fine of $10,000.

Sale or possession within 300 yards of a school, public park, or playground doubles the penalties.

See

  • R.I. Gen. Laws § 21-28- 401.2 (2015)
  • R.I. Gen. Laws § 21-28- 2.08 (2015) 
  • R.I. Gen. Laws § 21-28-4.07 (2015) 

Hashish and concentrates fall under the definition of marijuana.

See

  • R.I. Gen. Laws § 21-28-1.02 (26) (2015) 

Paraphernalia

The manufacture, sale, delivery, or possession with the intent to sell or deliver, of paraphernalia is punishable by a fine not exceeding five thousand dollars ($5,000) and up to two (2) years imprisonment.

Any person eighteen (18) years of age or over who delivers drug paraphernalia to a person under eighteen (18) years of age shall be subject to a fine not to exceed five thousand dollars ($5,000) and imprisonment not to exceed five (5) years.

See

  • R.I. Gen. Laws § 21-28.5-2 (2015)

Miscellaneous

Possession while driving will result in a driver’s license suspension for a period of 6 months.

See

  • R.I. Gen. Laws § 21-28- 2.08 (2015)
  • R.I. Gen. Laws § 21-28-2.03 (2015)
  • R.I. Gen. Laws § 21-28.4.01 (2015)

If the offense involves the use of any automobile to transport the substance or the substance is found within an automobile, then a person convicted or who pleads nolo contendere shall be subjected to a loss of license for a period of six months for a first offense and one year for each offense after this.

See

  • R.I. Gen. Laws § 21- 28-4.01(4)(iv) (2015)
CONDITIONAL RELEASE

The state allows conditional release or alternative or diversion sentencing for people facing their first prosecutions. Usually, conditional release lets a person opt for probation rather than trial. After successfully completing probation, the individual’s criminal record does not reflect the charge.

DECRIMINALIZATION

The state has decriminalized marijuana to some degree. Typically, decriminalization means no prison time or criminal record for first-time possession of a small amount for personal consumption. The conduct is treated like a minor traffic violation.

DRUGGED DRIVING

This state has a per se drugged driving law enacted. In their strictest form, these laws forbid drivers from operating a motor vehicle if they have a detectable level of an illicit drug or drug metabolite (i.e., compounds produced from chemical changes of a drug in the body, but not necessarily psychoactive themselves) present in their bodily fluids above a specific, state-imposed threshold. Further information about cannabinoids and their impact on psychomotor performance is available here. Additional information regarding cannabinoids and proposed per se limits is available here.

HEMP

This state has an active hemp industry or has authorized research. Hemp is a distinct variety of the plant species cannabis sativa L. that contains minimal (less than 1%) amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the primary psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. Various parts of the plant can be utilized in the making of textiles, paper, paints, clothing, plastics, cosmetics, foodstuffs, insulation, animal feed, and other products. For more information see NORML’s Industrial Use section.

MANDATORY MINIMUM SENTENCE

When someone is convicted of an offense punishable by a mandatory minimum sentence, the judge must sentence the defendant to the mandatory minimum sentence or to a higher sentence. The judge has no power to sentence the defendant to less time than the mandatory minimum. A prisoner serving an MMS for a federal offense and for most state offenses will not be eligible for parole. Even peaceful marijuana smokers sentenced to “life MMS” must serve a life sentence with no chance of parole.

MEDICAL MARIJUANA

This state has medical marijuana laws enacted. Modern research suggests that cannabis is a valuable aid in the treatment of a wide range of clinical applications. These include pain relief, nausea, spasticity, glaucoma, and movement disorders. Marijuana is also a powerful appetite stimulant and emerging research suggests that marijuana’s medicinal properties may protect the body against some types of malignant tumors, and are neuroprotective. For more information see: Medical Use.

TAX STAMPS

This state has a marijuana tax stamp law enacted. This law mandates that those who possess marijuana are legally required to purchase and affix state-issued stamps onto his or her contraband. Failure to do so may result in a fine and/or criminal sanction. For more information, see NORML’s report Marijuana Tax Stamp Laws And Penalties.

Rhode Island Drugged Driving

In Rhode Island, a person is guilty of a DUI if he or she drives while under the influence of drugs, or any controlled substance. In addition, a person who drives with a blood presence of any scheduled controlled substance, as shown by analysis of a blood or urine sample, shall also be guilty of DUI. Id. § 31-27-2(b). However, a registered qualifying medical use patient shall not be considered to be under the influence solely for having marijuana metabolites in his or her system.

In addition to any other penalty prescribed by law, whoever operates any motor vehicle while knowingly having in the motor vehicle or in his or her possession, a controlled substance, shall have his or her license suspended for a period of six (6) months. Id. § 31-27-2.4(a).

Affirmative Defense

The fact that any person charged with violating this section is or has been legally entitled to use alcohol or a drug shall not constitute a defense against any charge of violating this section. Id. § 31-27-2(b).

Implied Consent

  • Any person who operates a motor vehicle within this state shall be deemed to have given his or her consent to chemical tests of his or her breath, blood, and/or urine for the purpose of determining the chemical content of his or her body fluids or breath.Id. § 31-27-2.1(a).
  • The penalty for the first refusal of chemical testing is a fine in the amount of two hundred dollars ($200) to five hundred dollars ($500), ten (10) to sixty (60) hours of public community restitution, and the person’s driving license in this state shall be suspended for a period of six (6) months to one year. Id. § 31-27-2.1(b)(1). Penalties increase with multiple offenses. Id. §§ 31-27-2.1(b)(2)-(3).
  • If an individual refuses to consent to a chemical test, and a peace officer, has probable cause to believe that the individual was operating a motor vehicle under the influence a chemical test may be administered without the consent of that individual provided that the peace officer first obtains a search warrant authorizing administration of the chemical test. The chemical test shall determine the amount of the alcohol or the presence of a controlled substance in that person’s blood or breath. Id. § 31-27-2.9(a).
  • Evidence that the defendant had refused to submit to the test shall not be admissible unless the defendant elects to testify. Id. § 31-27-2.1(c)(1).

Penalties

  • First offense with controlled substance present in blood – fine of not less than one hundred dollars ($100) nor more than three hundred dollars ($300); required to perform ten (10) to sixty (60) hours of public community restitution; possible imprisonment for up to one year; offender may be required to attend a special course on driving while intoxicated or under the influence of a controlled substance; driver’s license shall be suspended for thirty (30) days up to one hundred eighty (180) days. Id. § 31-27-2(d)(1)(i).
  • First offense while under the influence of a controlled substance – fine of five hundred dollars ($500); offender required to perform twenty (20) to sixty (60) hours of public community restitution; possible imprisonment for up to one year; driving license shall be suspended for a period of three (3) months to eighteen (18) months; the sentencing judge shall require attendance at a special course on driving while intoxicated or under the influence of a controlled substance and/or alcohol or drug treatment for the individual. Id. § 31-27-2(d)(1)(iii)
  • Second offense with controlled substance present in blood (w/i 5 years) – mandatory fine of four hundred dollars ($400); driving license shall be suspended for a period of one year to two (2) years; the individual shall be sentenced to not less than ten (10) days nor more than one year in jail – not less than forty-eight (48) hours of imprisonment shall be served consecutively; the sentencing judge shall require alcohol or drug treatment for the individual; judge may prohibit that person from operating a motor vehicle that is not equipped with an ignition interlock system for a period of one year to two (2) years. Id. § 31-27-2(d)(2)(i),
  • Second offense while under the influence of a controlled substance (w/i 5 years) – mandatory imprisonment of not less than six (6) months nor more than one year; mandatory fine of not less than one thousand dollars ($1,000); mandatory license suspension for a period of two (2) years from the date of completion of the sentence imposed under this subsection. Id. § 31-27-2(d)(2)(ii).
  • Third or subsequent offense with controlled substance present in blood (w/i 5 years) felony – mandatory fine of four hundred ($400) dollars; offender’s driving license shall be suspended for a period of two (2) years to three (3) years; offender sentenced to not less than one year and not more than three (3) years in jail – not less than forty-eight (48) hours of imprisonment shall be served consecutively; the sentencing judge shall require alcohol or drug treatment for the individual, and may prohibit that person from operating a motor vehicle that is not equipped with an ignition interlock system for a period of two (2) years following the completion of the sentence; the sentencing judge may have vehicle owned and operated by the violator seized and sold, with all funds obtained by the sale to be transferred to the general fund. Id. §§ 31-27-2(d)(3)(i),(iii).
  • Third or subsequent offense while under the influence of a controlled substance (w/i 5 years) – mandatory imprisonment of not less than three (3) years nor more than five (5) years; mandatory fine of not less than one thousand dollars ($1,000) nor more than five thousand dollars ($5,000); mandatory license suspension for a period of three (3) years from the date of completion of the sentence imposed; the sentencing judge may have vehicle owned and operated by the violator seized and sold, with all funds obtained by the sale to be transferred to the general fund. Id. §§ 31-27-2(d)(3)(ii),(iii).

Other Penalties & Penalty Enhancers

  • Any person over the age of eighteen (18) who is convicted for operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs, while a child under the age of thirteen (13) years was present as a passenger in the motor vehicle, at the time the offense was committed, may be sentenced to a term of imprisonment of not more than one year. Id. § 31-27-2(d)(4)(ii).
  • Any person convicted of a violation under this section shall pay a highway assessment fine of five hundred dollars ($500). Id. § 31-27-2(d)(5)(i).
  • If the person convicted of violating this section is under the age of eighteen (18) years – for the first violation he or she shall be required to perform ten (10) to sixty (60) hours of public community restitution; offender’s driving license shall be suspended for a period of six (6) months, up to eighteen (18) months; the sentencing judge shall also require attendance at a special course on driving while under the influence of a controlled substance and/or drug education; possible highway assessment fine of no more than five hundred dollars. Id. § 31-27-2(d)(6)(i).

Sobriety Checkpoints

In Rhode Island, sobriety checkpoints have been found illegal under the state Constitution.

  • Although federal constitution has similar construction, states are free to afford a greater degree of protection to citizens. Nondiscretionary sobriety checkpoints, even those deemed to be constitutional under Federal law, violate Rhode Island Constitution for want of probable cause or reasonable suspicion. Primental v. Rhode Island, 561 A.2d 1348 (1989).

Case Law

State v. DelBonis, 862 A.2d 760 (2004) — When prosecuting DUI cases, state bears the burden of proving each and every element necessary beyond a reasonable doubt.

State v. DiCicco, 707 A.2d 251 (1998) — Absent a blood alcohol test which exceeds DUI per se level, conviction may be sustained if other evidence establishes beyond reasonable doubt that person was under influence of intoxicating drugs or any controlled substance to degree which rendered him incapable of safely operating vehicle.

State v. Capuano, 591 A.2d 35 (1991) — The Legislature, in removing the actual physical control language from the section, intended that more than simple possession of a motor vehicle was necessary to constitute operating or driving.

Per Se Drugged Driving Laws

Rhode Island has a zero tolerance per se drugged driving law enacted for cannabis and other controlled substances. However, a registered qualifying medical use patient shall not be considered to be under the influence solely for having marijuana metabolites in his or her system.

Violating the law is punishable by up to 12 months in jail upon conviction for a first offense.

Rhode Island Hemp Law

Year Passed: 2016
Summary:  H8232 establishes rules for the commercial, licensed cultivation of hemp in the state. The legislation creates the “Hemp Growth Act” to treat hemp as an agricultural product that may be legally produced, possessed, distributed and commercially traded. The Department of Business Regulation will be responsible for establishing rules and regulations for the licensing and regulation of hemp growers and processors. The Department is also authorized to certify any higher educational institution in Rhode Island to grow or handle or assist in growing or handling industrial hemp for the purpose of agricultural or academic research.The law will take effect January 1, 2017.

Members of Congress have approved language (Section 7606) in the omnibus federal Farm Bill authorizing states to sponsor hemp research absent federal reclassification of the plant.
Statute: R.I. Gen. Laws § 2-26-1 (2016) 

Rhode Island Medical Marijuana Law

Status

 

Operational

Law Signed:

 2006

QUALIFYING CONDITIONS

  • Alzheimer’s Disease
  • Cachexia
  • Cancer
  • Chronic pain
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Glaucoma
  • Hepatitis C
  • HIV/AIDS
  • Nausea
  • Persistent muscle spasms
  • Post traumatic stress disorder
  • Seizures
  • Other conditions are subject to approval

PATIENT POSSESSION LIMITS

Two and one-half ounces

HOME CULTIVATION

Yes, up to 12 plants and 12 seedlings. All marijuana must be cultivated in one location. All marijuana must be cultivated in one location. Must be stored in an indoor facility.

Two or more cardholders may cooperatively cultivate marijuana in residential or non-residential locations subject to the following restrictions:

Non-residential – no more than 10 ounces of usable marijuana, 48 mature marijuana plants, and 48 seedlings.

Residential – no more than 10 ounces of useable marijuana, 24 mature marijuana plants, and 24 seedlings.

STATE-LICENSED DISPENSARIES ALLOWED

Yes, no more than three

STATE-LICENSED DISPENSARIES OPERATIONAL

Yes

MEDICAL MARIJUANA STATUTES

  • R.I. Gen. Laws § 21-28.6-4(k) (2006)
  • R.I. Gen. Laws § 21-28.6 (2006)
  • R.I. Gen. Laws 1956, §21-28.6-3 (9) (2006)

CAREGIVERS

Yes, the caregiver must be 21 years of age or older. Primary caregiver may assist no more than 5 qualifying patients with their medical use of marijuana. Patients can appoint no more than one caregiver.

ESTIMATED NUMBER OF REGISTERED PATIENTS

RECIPROCITY

Yes, authorizes a patient with a debilitating medical condition, with a registry identification card (or its equivalent), to engage in the medical use of marijuana. Also authorizes a person to assist with the medical use of marijuana by a patient with a debilitating medical condition.

CONTACT INFORMATION

State of Rhode Island Department of Health

More helpful information can be found at Rhode Island Patient Advocacy Coalition.

Rhode Island Tax Stamps

Stamp
State Code §44-49
Tax Rate $3.50/gram if owner possesses 42.5 grams or more
Penalty for Nonpayment (Civil and Criminal ) 200% of tax and up to $10k or 5 years prison or both
Additional Information

 

Rhode Island Verified Marijuana Attorney / Lawyers

Scott J Summer

401-965-7771

Scott J Summer

Lawyers Collaborative
400 Reservoir Ave Suite 3A

ProvidenceRI 02907

www.lawyerscollaborative.com

Phone: 401-965-7771
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