Marijuana is legal for adults and is taxed and regulated similarly to alcohol; state also has a medical marijuana law
Last update: October 13, 2023
Delaware: the 22nd state to legalize cannabis
In April 2023, the First State became the 22nd state to legalize cannabis after Governor John Carney (D) allowed HB 1 and HB 2 to become law without his signature.
HB 1 legalizes possession of up to one ounce of cannabis for adults 21 and older.
HB 2 will regulate and tax cannabis sales for adults in Delaware.
Check out our summaries for details.
Representative Ed Osienski (D) sponsored both bills, with Sen. Trey Paradee (D) leading the charge in the Senate. Both bills passed the legislature in supermajority votes.
In June 2023, Governor Carney nominated, and the Senate confirmed Robert Coupe as the state’s first marijuana commissioner. Coupe is tasked with standing up the adult-use market. It is anticipated that licensure applications will be available by May 2024.
MPP is a proud member of the Delaware Cannabis Policy Coalition, which organized to end cannabis prohibition for years in Delaware. From organizing lobby days, rallies, and town halls, testifying in key committees, conducting media outreach, voter guides, and so much more, we’re proud to have played a leading role to reach this historic moment.
MPP’s Olivia Naugle testifying before the Senate Health and Social Services Committee in support of HB 1 and HB 2
Make sure you’re signed up for our email alerts so we can keep you updated on the rollout of Delaware’s adult-use cannabis law.
Twelve medical cannabis compassion centers now open
The Department of Health continues to accept applications for medical cannabis ID cards, which are required for patients seeking to obtain their medicine from a compassion center. If you are interested in obtaining your medical cannabis ID card, please visit the medical cannabis program’s website or call them at (302) 744-4749 to receive application forms. If you have further questions about the medical cannabis program, please see our summary of the law.
You can find a list of compassion centers in Delaware here.
Governor signs expungement bills
In 2018, 2019, and 2021, Gov. John Carney signed bills to expand expungement, including for cannabis convictions.
The 2018 law — SB 197 — allowed individuals with a single conviction for possessing up to an ounce of cannabis to automatically qualify to clear their record. To receive an expungement, individuals must first request their certified records from the State Bureau of Identification. Then, they pay a fee and fill out a form to apply for mandatory expungement.
In June 2019, Gov. Carney signed SB 37 into law. This law allows for a single cannabis misdemeanor conviction to be expunged after five years and a single cannabis felony conviction to be expunged after seven years.
Finally, in June 2021, the legislature passed and Gov. Carney signed Clean Slate expungement bills — SB 111 and SB 112. Among other reforms, SB 112 allows all misdemeanor cannabis possession convictions to be eligible for mandatory expungement. It also allows drug felonies to be eligible for mandatory expungement once 10 years have passed since the conviction. Starting on August 1, 2024, the expungement process will be automatic for any offenses eligible for mandatory expungement.
Delaware’s decriminalization law
In December 2015, Delaware’s bill to decriminalize cannabis possession took effect. HB 39, which passed the General Assembly and was signed into law by then-Governor Jack Markell, made possession of up to one ounce of cannabis by adults a civil violation punishable by a $100 fine with no possibility of jail. MPP played a leading role in the campaign. Possession of up to an ounce of cannabis was previously a misdemeanor punishable by up to a $575 fine and up to three months in jail.
On July 31, 2019, Gov. Carney signed SB 45 into law, which expanded the decriminalization to those under 21 years old. While cannabis is now legal for adults 21 and older in Delaware, the civil penalty remains in place for underage individuals found with cannabis.
While legalization is an enormous victory, our work isn’t done. Make sure you’re signed up for our email alerts so we can keep you updated as Delaware implements these laws.
Today, Gov. John Carney (D) became the first Democratic governor to veto a cannabis legalization bill by vetoing HB 371 — a bill that would legalize possession of up to one ounce of cannabis for adults 21 and older in Delaware. Meanwhile, a supermajority of Delawareans support cannabis legalization.