In 2021, two Delaware House committees approved HB 150 — a bill to legalize, tax, and regulate cannabis for adults. The bill was approved by the House Health and Human Development Committee back in March. HB 150 was set for a House floor vote on Thursday, June 10, but the vote was postponed to work on amendments. The legislature adjourned on June 30, without further action on the bill.
However, since the General Assembly holds a two-year session, the bill will pick up where it left off in January 2022.
HB 150 would legalize possession of up to one ounce of cannabis for adults 21 and older, allow for mandatory expungement of past cannabis possession convictions, and promote equity and inclusion in the legal industry from communities disproportionately impacted by cannabis prohibition. You can check out our full summary of HB 150 here.
Regulators allow medical cannabis delivery, six compassion centers now open
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Delaware’s medical cannabis program has allowed medical cannabis to be delivered to qualified patients and caregivers throughout the state.
Home delivery was first allowed due to Delaware’s state of emergency declaration, but regulated home delivery will be allowed permanently.
You can find a list of compassion centers in Delaware here.
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.
Governor signs expungement bills
In both 2018 and 2019, Gov. John Carney signed bills to expand expungement, including for marijuana convictions. On June 30, 2021, a broad Clean Slate expungement bill headed to his desk.
The 2018 law — SB 197 — allowed 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.
Finally, in June 2021, the legislature passed Clean Slate expungement bills — SB 111 and SB 112, which Gov. Carney is expected to sign. Among other reforms, SB 112 allows all misdemeanor marijuana 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 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 July 31, 2019, Gov. Carney signed SB 45 into law, which expanded the decriminalization 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.