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How does Rhode Island view marijuana?

While the federal government still views marijuana as a serious drug, Rhode Island has joined the list of states that has legalized it for medicinal purposes. Even without a prescription, if found with it in your possession in certain amounts, you may only be guilty of a civil offense. It is those accused of illegally distributing or cultivating the drug who will face the most severe penalties.

So, what exactly do the state's marijuana laws say? What are the penalties if criminally convicted? And, finally, what defense strategies may prove useful when fighting a marijuana-related drug charge?

Crimes and their associated penalties

Possession, sale, cultivation and trafficking are the four categories under which marijuana-related drug crimes fall. The penalties for each of these crimes include:

  • Possession: This is a civil offense if the amount in your possession is less than one ounce. Possession of this amount has a maximum fine of $150. If the amount found in your possession is between one ounce and one kilogram, it is a misdemeanor offense with a maximum fine of $500 and can result in incarceration for up to one year.
  • Sale or cultivation: These are different crimes, but the penalties are the same. If the quantity found is less than one kilogram, this is felony offense that is punishable up to 30 years in prison and a fine up to $100,000. Between one and five kilograms, the penalties are 10 to 50 years imprisonment and a fine between $10,000 and $500,000. Anything over five kilograms is punishable by a prison sentence of 20 years to life and a fine of $25,000 to $1 million. Penalties increase if one sells to a minor or near a school.
  • Trafficking: Depending on one's role in a trafficking operation, it is punishable by prison time and hefty fines as well.

Clearly, if you are convicted on certain marijuana-related drug charges, it has the potential to drastically alter the course of your life.

Potential defenses

As is true for most criminal cases, there may be various criminal defense strategies available to you. Some of these include:

  • Medical recommendation: If arrested for the possession of marijuana that was for your own or a loved one's medical need, you may claim to have a medical recommendation.
  • Unwitting possession: In claiming this, you are denying knowledge that the drug was in your possession.
  • Lack of possession: In going with this defense, you are claiming that you may have been in close proximity to the drug, but it does not belong to you.

Depending on the details of your case, there may be other defense strategies that better suit your needs. With the help of your legal counsel, you can choose a course of action that best serves your interests.

Get help as soon as possible

If charged with a crime involving marijuana, get help as soon as you are able. An experienced criminal defense attorney will be your ally and will work diligently to resolve your case in the best way possible and as swiftly as possible.

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