Rhode Island Drug Laws

Rhode Island Drug Laws

Rhode Island, the smallest state in the nation, has ranked first in the country in several drug-use categories, including past-month illicit substance abuse, marijuana use in the past year, and past-year abuse of cocaine, all for citizens ages 12 and over.

Rhode Island’s drug-related laws are somewhat lax compared to those of other states, but it also offers a number of counteractive programs designed to prevent abuse and facilitate recovery.

Possession Of Illicit Substances

Under Rhode Island state law, possessing any illicit substance with intent to manufacture or deliver is unlawful, and carries a stiff penalty depending on the amount and type of the substance. Drugs classified as Schedule I or Schedule II can carry an imprisonment of up to 30 years, with a fine between $3,000 and $100,000. Drugs classified as Schedule III or Schedule IV can carry a prison sentence of up to 20 years, with a fine of up to $40,000.

Without the intent to distribute of manufacture, penalties for substance possession are much less severe. Most possession charges are considered misdemeanors, and drugs classified as Schedules I-V can carry an imprisonment of up to one year, with a fine between $200 and $500. Offenders may also be required to perform up to 100 hours of community service, or engage in a drug recovery program.

Employment Drug Testing

In Rhode Island, most employers do not have the legal authority to require an employee to take a drug test, except under special circumstances. The state has determined that the tests’ questionable accuracy and intrusiveness for workers are, in most cases, unnecessary and pose an infringement on employees’ rights. State law fully bans all random drug testing except in federally regulated occupations.

The only circumstances under which an employer may mandate a drug test are if he or she suspects that an employee’s repetitive drug use is affecting his or her ability to perform at work. Even then, the employee must be allowed to take the test in private, and the sample must be evaluated by a federally certified laboratory, which will report the findings confidentially. Employees also have the right to request testing from an alternate facility.

However, it should be noted that these laws apply only to employees. Potential job applicants to private employers may be subject to a pre-hire drug test, so long as employers have a written drug policy beforehand and the job applicant is fully aware.

Rehabilitation Centers And Treatment Opportunities

Rhode Island offers multiple forms of assistance to drug offenders and addicts seeking recovery. Many possession-related charges carry, in addition to a possible fine and/or prison sentence, a mandate for offenders to pursue a drug addiction recovery program. Rhode Island features several state-funded programs designed to help those seeking recovery, and a number of non-profit organizations in the state have also made a commitment to helping drug offenders get the recovery they need.

Rhode Island has one of the largest drug-using populations in the country, per capita. Its laws remain somewhat forgiving, and its multiple rehabilitation and prevention programs are helping to curtail the problem.

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