Focus shifts to 2020 for legalization bill
Last updated: July 1, 2019
The legislature adjourned on June 30 without voting on HB 110 – a bill to legalize, tax, and regulate marijuana for adults 21 and older. Since the General Assembly holds a two-year session, bills that did not get a vote will roll over and pick up where they left off in January 2020.
On June 5, the House Revenue and Finance Committee voted 7-1 to advance HB 110, a bill to legalize, tax, and regulate cannabis for adults 21 and older. The bill is now pending action in the House Appropriations Committee in 2020. You can read our full summary of the bill here.
Last year’s legalization bill fell short of the needed supermajority (25 votes) to pass in the House. We need your help to get past the finish line in 2020. Contact your state representative today and ask them to vote YES on HB 110!
A group of organizations, including MPP, are working together to regulate marijuana as the Delaware Cannabis Policy Coalition. Check out our website and consider getting involved!
If you are a member of an organization that would like to join our coalition, we would love to hear from you. We are in the process of growing our network of supporters.
If you are a member or former member of law enforcement, active or retired military personnel, member of the clergy, economist, medical professional, business leader, or a victim of marijuana prohibition, and you support ending marijuana prohibition, please get in touch with us to see how you can be of special help. We are also looking for volunteers to phone bank. Reach out if you're up for pitching in.
Medical cannabis expansion bill sent to Gov. Carney's desk!
A bill expanding Delaware's medical cannabis program was sent to Gov. Carney's desk on June 30, 2019. The bill, SB 24, would allow patients with any severe and debilitating medical condition to qualify for medical cannabis if they have exhausted other treatments, and those treatments have been ineffective or had prohibitive side effects.
Meanwhile, HB 243, which would allow registered medical patients to grow their own cannabis, was introduced this session and is pending in the House Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee. The bill would allow patients to grow up to six mature cannabis plants in an enclosed facility. Ask your lawmakers to allow patients to grow their own cannabis!
Governor signs marijuana expungement bills
In both 2018 and 2019, Gov. John Carney signed bills to expand expungement, including for marijuana convictions.
The 2018 law — SB 197 — allows individuals with a single conviction for possessing up to an ounce of marijuana 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.
On June 30, 2019, Gov. Carney signed SB 37 into law. This bill 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.
Delaware’s decriminalization law
In December 2015, Delaware’s bill to decriminalize marijuana 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 marijuana by adults a civil violation punishable by a $100 fine with no possibility of jail. Possession of up to an ounce of marijuana was previously a misdemeanor punishable by up to a $575 fine and up to three months in jail. Please see our summary of HB 39 for further details.
On June 30, 2019, the legislature sent SB 45 to Gov. Carney's desk, which would expand the decriminalization law to those under 21 years old.
While decriminalization was an important reform, it is no substitute for regulating marijuana for adults’ use. A $100 fine can be an extreme hardship to low-income residents, and decriminalization did nothing to take marijuana sales off of the sometimes dangerous illicit market. Don’t forget to ask your lawmakers to support regulating marijuana.
Medical marijuana compassion centers open; more coming soon
Almost four years after the state’s medical marijuana act was signed into law, Delaware’s first compassion center — First State Compassion — opened to qualified patients on June 26, 2015 in Wilmington. First State Compassion opened a second location in Lewes in spring of 2017. In late June 2018, Columbia Care opened in Smyrna. A fourth compassion center, based in Newark, is expected to open in 2019.
The Department of Health continues to accept applications for medical marijuana ID cards, which are 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 Karen O’Keefe and Noah Mamber in Dover with Sen. Margaret Rose Henry and several of the
state’s most committed patients to watch then-Gov. Markell sign SB 17, the state’s medical marijuana bill.
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.