The state Senate and House have approved bills eliminating the criminal charge for carrying an ounce or less of marijuana.
The legislation passed the House in a 50 to 24 vote and passed the Senate in a 28 to 6 vote. Each bill must now pass in the opposite chamber in order to become law. If enacted, Rhode Island would become the 15th state to decriminalize marijuana.
The legislation could save the state millions of dollars each year, clean the judicial dockets for more serious issues and take away the criminal stigma from an otherwise youthful indiscretion, said Rep. John G. Edwards (D-Dist. 70, Tiverton, Portsmouth), a sponsor of the House bill.
Barrington Police Chief John LaCross said the RI Police Chiefs Association has always opposed the decriminalization of marijuana, and he has testified against decriminalization in the past.
Representatives of the BAY Team in Barrington also testified against passage of the bill this time, LaCross said.
Attorney General Peter Kilmartin also opposes decriminalization because it would increase the number of people driving under the influence of the drug and increase the risk of teens using it.
So, which concerns carry more weight?
The long-term consequences and cost of prosecution for posession? Or the effectiveness of officers and the potential risk to teens?
Vote in our poll below, and tell us your reasons in the comments.