Last Update: September 11, 2014

Delaware House committee votes to decriminalize marijuana

2014 has been a good year for marijuana reform in the First State. In August, after more than three years, Delaware’s first compassion center was finally approved! On June 18, the Delaware House Public Safety & Homeland Security Committee voted 6-1 to release Rep. Helene Keeley's decriminalization bill, HB 371. The legislature adjourned July 1 without taking any further action on the bill. However, this was the first year that such a measure was introduced in the state, and support from the committee was a positive first step.

Recent polling conducted by Public Policy Polling and commissioned by the Marijuana Policy Project found 68% support for replacing Delaware's criminal penalties for possession of up to an ounce of marijuana with a $100 civil fine. If you are a resident of Delaware, please email your legislators today and ask them to support this sensible change in policy.

Removing criminal penalties for marijuana possession is a noncontroversial policy idea that will immediately help address the racial disparity in marijuana arrests as a result of current policies. According to the ACLU, this punishment is disproportionately felt by African Americans, who are three times as likely to be arrested in Delaware for marijuana possession than their white neighbors.

Nineteen states and the District of Columbia have enacted similar reforms. Colorado and Washington have made marijuana legal for adults 21 and older, an idea that is also supported by a majority of Delaware voters. Yet, Delaware continues to criminalize possession of a small amount of marijuana, which can result in a sentence of up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,150. All Delawareans should encourage their lawmakers to end the failed policy of marijuana prohibition.

Compassion center regulations final

The Delaware Department of Health and Social Services finalized regulations for a single medical marijuana compassion center. Unfortunately, the pilot center will be limited to cultivating 150 plants — far too few to meet patients’ needs. MPP submitted comments urging the department to revise the regulations to ensure a workable program. While the department refused to lift the cap now, there is a possibility of doing so later if and when the current regulations prove too limited.

DHHS has issued a compassion center request for proposals and will license one center to begin growing medical marijuana by July of this year. Meanwhile, they continue to accept applications for medical marijuana ID cards, which will be required for patients seeking to obtain their medicine from a compassion center. If you are interested in obtaining your medical marijuana ID card, please visit the medical marijuana program's website or call them at (302) 744-4749 to receive application forms. If you have further questions about the medical marijuana program, please see our summary of the law

MPP's Noah Mamber and Karen O'Keefe in Dover with Sen. Margaret Rose Henry and several of the state's most committed patients to watch Gov. Markell sign SB 17.

Are you a patient?

Although medical marijuana legislation has already been enacted in Delaware, patient advocacy is crucial to encouraging the governor to fully implement the dispensary portion of the law and to fix the plant limits. If you are supportive and are a patient with a serious medical condition who might benefit from medical marijuana, a loved one of such a patient, a medical professional, a member of law enforcement or the clergy, or a lawyer or PhD who might be interested in speaking out, please email to see how you can be of special help. Be sure to include your address and nine-digit ZIP code.

You can also share the stories of other Delaware patients.

Stay connected

Thank you for supporting MPP. To stay updated on the status of marijuana policy reform in Delaware, be sure to subscribe to MPP's free legislative alert service.







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