It seems that marijuana decriminalization has been a windfall for Rhode Island state coffers.
Laws making cannabis possession on-par with a traffic tickets were approved and put into law back in April, which some might see as a directive to police to make marijuana possession a low priority. It seems nobody told the police that though, and since April cops have written about 850 marijuana tickets totaling about $110,000 in fines.
Under the new decriminalized laws, possession of 28 grams or less is a civil violation with a $150 fine. So far, about $61,000 has been collected since April, according to the Providence Journal. According to the law, police also must confiscate the marijuana.
One traffic judge says he’s surprised by the number of tickets, but surmised that the ease at which a cop can issue a pot ticket now has made it much more convenient to write than processing a pot ticket before when it involved arrest. Basically: pot tickets weren’t worth the hassle before, but now they are.
Between April 1 and August 12, 663 adults and 92 children have been issued tickets. State police issued most, presumably during traffic stops on state highways and roads. Providence saw the second-highest number of tickets, followed by Warwick, Cranston and Pawtucket.
While the laws mean that those 663 adults and 92 children avoided jailtime for the possession, they still face increasing fines if they don’t pay up within 30 days. After three months, the $150 fine jumps to $600. The report also doesn’t mention how many people were arrested for possession simply because they didn’t have an ID on them at the time — which is one of the provisions of the new law.
The minors busted will also have to pay a $150 fine as well as complete state-approved drug awareness programs and community service.