Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee joins 14 other states by signing into law a bill that decriminalizes possession of small amounts of marijuana. The law, which becomes effective on April 1, 2013, states that possession of an ounce or less will become nothing more than a civil violation with a $150 fine. It does state that 3 such violations within a period of 18 months would be a misdemeanor.
Current Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who served as President Barack Obama's first White House chief of staff, said Friday that he would back a proposal that would decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana. He becomes the latest in a string of politicians, including New York's Governor Andrew Cuomo, Rhode Island's Governor Lincoln Chafee, Texas congressional candidate Beto O'Rourke (who just beat eight-term incumbent Silvestre Reyes heavily on the marijuana legalization platform), Ronald Reagan's former speechwriter and current Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, and New York Supreme Court Justice Gustin L. Reichbach, that have recently come out in support of smaller penalties for marijuana use.
New compromise legislation was passed by the Rhode Island Senate today that will set limits on how much marijuana a dispensary can possess. The compromise intends to kickstart the stalled RI medical marijuana program that Gov. Lincoln Chafee held up for fear of federal prosecution.
Back in March, we reported that the state was seeking such a compromise, which aims to fly under the federal radar by imposing limits on the amount of medical marijuana a dispensary can possess to 1,500 ounces. According to the Washington Examiner, other provisions include "allowing state police to inspect dispensaries and another giving the state police a seat on the board overseeing the facilities."
Some pot proponents feel that these limits will strangulate the supply of medicine for patients.
The U.S. Attorney for Rhode Island has warned property owners that taking on tenants in the marijuana industry can result in facing forfeiture proceedings.
In a move echoing that of U.S. Attorneys in California and Colorado, Rhode Island U.S. Attorney Peter Neronha has warned would-be landlords of dispensaries that the Department of Justice is watching, and will send letters of forfeiture if need be.
Neronha's office reconfirmed that no one intends on prosecuting sick patients, but rather, the large-scale marijuana operations.