As of today, April 1st, possession of a small amount of marijuana is officially decriminalized in the state of Rhode Island. Back in June of 2012 Gov. Lincoln Chafee (I) signed into law SB 2253, which reduced the penalties for marijuana possession. The law did not go into effect until today.

Before today, possession in the state was classified as a criminal misdemeanor and was punishable with up to a year in jail and a $500 fine. Now thanks to the new law, adults caught with up to an ounce of marijuana should face only a $150 civil fine with no jail time or criminal record.

Rhode Island has become the 16th state where possession of a small amount of marijuana has either been decriminalized or legalized.

It is likely that a few other states will also follow suit this year. The Maryland Senate recently approved a decriminalization bill, and in Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin (D) has called decriminalizing marijuana a top legislative priority.

Photo by Spâ–²ce Câ–²det released under Creative Commons License