Once consigned to the political fringe, marijuana policy is appearing on legislative agendas around the U.S. thanks to an energized base of supporters and an increasingly open-minded public, reports the Associated Press. Legislators from Rhode Island to Colorado are considering medical marijuana programs, pot dispensaries, decriminalization, and even legalization. Seventeen states and the District of Columbia authorize medical marijuana and 14, including Connecticut and Massachusetts, have rolled back criminal penalties for possession of small amounts of pot.
Rhode Island is poised to become the 15th state to decriminalize marijuana possession. The state’s General Assembly passed legislation last week that would eliminate the threat of big fines or even jail time for the possession of an ounce or less of pot. Instead, adults caught with small amounts of marijuana would face a $150 civil fine. Police would confiscate the marijuana, but the incident would not appear on a criminal record. Minors caught with pot would also have to complete a drug awareness program and community service.