Good news for Rhode Island tokers: A bill decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana has been signed into law by Gov. Lincoln Chafee, reports the Providence Journal. The law makes possession of less than an ounce of marijuana a civil violation with a $150 fine, although three violations in 18 months would be a misdemeanor with larger fines and the risk of prison time. Fourteen other states have introduced similar laws.
Half of the fines collected will be spent on drug awareness and treatment programs for young people under the law, which was overwhelmingly approved by the state's General Assembly. The law, which takes effect April 1 next year, replaces one which made marijuana possession punishable with up to a year in jail or a $500 fine. Harvard economist Jeffrey Miron estimates that the move will save the state up to $11 million a year. (Read more Rhode Island stories.)