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Rhode Island and the outlook of cocaine laws

As America has recently seen a shift in views toward marijuana, views regarding cocaine remain largely the same. Although common and easily accessible in the state of Rhode Island, cocaine generally has a negative reputation, with its high connection to other crimes. However, it is important to know the variety of factors that can determine the severity of a case, including the quantity of the drug, the type of cocaine and past criminal records.

On top of the severe penalties that can take place as a result of cocaine possession or distribution, recent news from the Providence Journal warns the public of fentanyl-laced cocaine. A powerful synthetic opioid that has gripped the country, fentanyl has found its way into cocaine in large amounts. Rhode Island law enforcement has found large amounts of this laced drug during recent drug arrests, and officials report that fentanyl is the second most common drug detected in drug samples seized by law enforcement in 2017. It appears that such drastic measures have forced change regarding social perspective on illegal drugs, wherein health experts and law enforcement have recently had to prioritize helping and saving users in danger over arresting them.  

When it comes to the possession of any type of cocaine, Findlaw confirms that the penalties can, in fact, differ depending on a number of factors. According to Findlaw, cocaine is classified as either a Schedule I or Scheduled II controlled substance in most states, in that it has a relatively high potential for abuse while simultaneously carrying the heaviest penalties for violations. Rhode Island is one state that imposes lesser sentences to individuals who plead no contest to minor cocaine charges. The state requires those caught with cocaine to adhere to the following:

  • 100 hours of community service
  • Drug education programs
  • A minimum of $500 in fines
  • Jail time (depending on the amount of cocaine in possession)        

Like many court procedures, officials may change or overrule state laws through higher court procedures, the enactment of new legislation and other methods. 


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