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Emboldened Lawmakers Seek to Decriminalize Pot

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — A marijuana advocacy group hopes to build on momentum from ballot votes in Colorado and Washington with new efforts to remove criminal penalties for marijuana use.

Two state representatives from Maine and Rhode Island are joining the Marijuana Policy Project on a teleconference Thursday to discuss bills that are being introduced in their states. Similar proposals are expected in at least two other states, Vermont and Massachusetts.

Robert Capecchi from the Marijuana Policy Project says the ballot initiatives approved in Washington and Colorado demonstrate that the nation has reached a “tipping point” favoring decriminalization.

Rhode Island is already decriminalizing the possession of an ounce or less of marijuana effective April 1. The new proposal would take it a step further by removing all criminal penalties for adult marijuana use.