RI pot decriminalization bill on Chafee's desk

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Legislation in Rhode Island that would roll back criminal penalties for the possession of small amounts of marijuana is awaiting action by Gov. Lincoln Chafee.

A final, formal vote by the state Senate Thursday night forwarded the bill to the governor’s desk. Chafee, an independent, says he is inclined to sign the bill into law.

Under the proposal adults caught with an ounce or less of marijuana would face a $150 civil fine. Minors caught with pot would also have to complete a drug awareness program and community service.

Current law makes possession of small amounts of marijuana a misdemeanor. Violators face possible jail time and fines up to $500.

Fourteen states have decriminalized possession of limited amounts of marijuana.

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