Warwick, RI- The Marijuana Policy Project has its eyes on at least ten states including Rhode Island where they plan to push lawmakers to legalize marijuana for recreational use.
Rhode Island is a good state to focus since medical marijuana is already legal in the state and legislators recently decriminalized marijuana, making it the 15th state to do so. Now, people over the age of 18 who are in possession of one ounce of marijuana or less only has to pay a $150 fine. Prior to decriminalization, possession of one ounce of pot carried a fine of up to $500 and one year in jail.
Legislators have introduced bills to make recreational marijuana legal to possess and consume at least three times, most recently in 2013 legislative session. The bill has the support of the House chair and 50 percent support from the House Judiciary Committee.
Recreational marijuana has the support of state residents as well, the Brown Daily Herald reported. According to a PPP poll from January 2012, 52 percent of Rhode Island residents thought marijuana should be legal for recreational use.
The biggest challenges that faced California and Colorado when they legalized marijuana was developing so-called “green DUI” standards. While these states and Rhode Island have decriminalized marijuana, people who drive while high can still be charged with DUI.
Under current Rhode Island laws police change charge a driver for driving under the influence of marijuana without testing for the presence of THC. A driver can be charged and convicted of marijuana DUI based on a police officer’s observations alone; they see someone smoking while driving, are driving erratically, there is the smell of marijuana in a vehicle or blood shot eyes.
The fact that a person can be charged and convicted with driving under the influence of marijuana should concern medical marijuana users and advocates. Although, Warwick DUI attorney can prevent a conviction, there should be tougher standards than just the word of a police officer.
Should Rhode Island legal recreational marijuana, the standards for charging with someone with a DUI could become stricter and more reliant on substantive tests as opposed to observations or assumptions on the part of police.
Lawmakers in Colorado and Washington spent a great deal of time drafting their “green DUI” laws and finally developed standards to determine what amount of THC in the blood hinders a person’s ability to driver safely.
Both states established that 5 nano grams of THC in the blood is the legal limit for a green DUI charge. That level has met with some criticism since advocates say that chronic users could register that level of THC even when they aren’t high or smoke on the day of their arrest. Lawmakers however found that to be a reasonable standard.
DUI penalties regardless of the substance the driver was on at the time of their arrest are similar and could result in jail time, suspension of a driver’s license and a criminal record. When you have been charged with intoxicated driving, a Warwick DUI attorney is your best line of defense against a conviction.