marijuanaThe following content was updated in May 2022.

Marijuana laws are constantly changing on both the State and Federal level, making it difficult for individuals to keep up. In today’s blog, the Rhode Island criminal defense attorneys at Abilheira Law explain the status of Rhode Island’s marijuana laws, with an update after the passage of the 2022 Rhode Island Cannabis Act.

What is the Difference between Marijuana Decriminalization and Marijuana Legalization?

Decriminalization relaxes criminal penalties imposed for marijuana whereas legalization gets rid of pre-existing laws that ban possession and recreational use of marijuana.

Is Marijuana Decriminalized or Legalized in Rhode Island?

Prior to 2022, Rhode Island had only decriminalized less than one ounce (oz.) of marijuana, making it a civil violation, similar to a traffic ticket. However, in 2022, legislators passed a bill to legalize marijuana in Rhode Island.

What quantities of marijuana are legal in Rhode Island?

Possession and recreational use of marijuana is legal in Rhode Island, under the following parameters:

  • Adults over the age of 21 can possess, use or purchase from a licensed retailer up to one ounce (1 oz) of marijuana
  • Adults over the age of 21 may also possess up to ten (10) ounces of marijuana within their residence. Note this is per resident within the residence.
  • Adults over the age of 21 may possess, cultivate, or process three (3) mature marijuana plants and up to three (3) immature marijuana plants

Can marijuana possession still be a crime in Rhode Island now that it was legalized?

Despite legalization of the quantities of marijuana listed above, possession of more than those amounts are still a crime and the penalty will depend on the quantity possessed.

Marijuana Quantity Type of Violation/Crime Penalty
Marijuana Quantity More than one ounce (1 oz) but less than two ounces (2oz) Type of Violation/Crime Civil Offense Penalty $150 fine

Additional penalties apply to those under the age of twenty-one (21):

  • drug awareness program
  • community service
  • fine can increase to $300 if the minor fails to complete said requirements within one year.
Marijuana Quantity More than two ounces (2 oz)

*Outside of primary residence

Type of Violation/Crime Misdemeanor Penalty Up to 1 year in prison
$500 fine
Marijuana Quantity More than ten ounces (10 oz)

*Inside one’s primary residence

Type of Violation/Crime Misdemeanor Penalty Up to 1 year in prison
$200-$500 fine


It is also a crime to possess more than three (3) live marijuana plants within one’s home.

Marijuana Plants Type of Crime Penalty
Marijuana Plants More than 3 but less than 25 Type of Crime Misdemeanor Penalty Up to 1 year in prison
$200- $500 fine
Marijuana Plants More than 25 Type of Crime Felony Penalty Up to 3 years in prison
a fine up to $5,000


Keep in mind that possession with intent to deliver marijuana is still a crime.

Where Does Rhode Island Stand Regarding Medical Marijuana?

Medical marijuana has been legal in Rhode Island since 2006. Rhode Island is also one of the few states that accepts medical cards from out-of-state patients.

What does “Medical Marijuana” include?

In Rhode Island, patients with certain medical conditions may be granted a medical marijuana card by a licensed doctor. Patients are then legally permitted to possess or carry two and a half ounces of marijuana. They are also permitted to cultivate up to 12 plants and 12 seedlings, as long as the plants are indoors.

Rhode Island’s medical marijuana law also specifies what “caregivers” may legally do, such as grow a number of plants for a specified number of patients.

Driving Under the Influence of Marijuana in Rhode Island

Rhode Island law has always made is illegal for one to operate under the influence of drugs. However, the Rhode Island Cannabis Act, reiterated that now that possession and recreational use of marijuana is legal, a person “shall not be considered to be under the influence solely for having cannabis metabolites in his or her system.” This is extremely important because it requires prosecutors to prove more than mere presence of drugs alone. They must actually prove that a person was under the influence to a degree that made them unable to safely operate a motor vehicle.

What If I Am Currently Facing a Marijuana-Related Charge in Rhode Island? What Now?

If you are currently facing a marijuana charge in Rhode Island, you should contact the Rhode Island drug defense lawyers at Abilheira Law today. We will evaluate your case in the context of this new law to determine if your charges can be dismissed or reduced.

For more information on this new marijuana law or other drug crimes in Rhode Island, contact the skilled Rhode Island criminal defense attorneys at Abilheira Law today. We handle drug cases statewide including Pawtucket, Woonsocket, Newport, Providence, and Bristol. Call us now at 401-245-5100, or fill out our online form!