States that have both a medical marijuana law and have removed jail time for possessing small amounts of marijuana
Last update: June 09, 2022
House fails to override legalization veto
On Tuesday, May 24, 2022, 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.
On Tuesday, June 7, 2022 the House of Representatives voted against overriding the governor’s veto. The final vote was 20-20 with one not voting. Although the bill originally passed the House 26-14, four Democrats – Majority Leader Valerie Longhurst, Sean Matthews, Bill Carson, and Andria Bennett — and Republicans Mike Ramone and Jeffrey Spiegelman changed their votes from “yes” to “no” or not voting on the veto override. Representatives Franklin Cooke (D) and Larry Mitchell (D) also changed their votes from not voting to “yes” at the last minute when it was evident the override would fail.
Separately, a bill (HB 372) that would legalize, regulate, and tax adult-use cannabis sales fell short of the needed 25 votes on the House floor on May 19.
Delaware’s legislative session adjourns on June 30, 2022. Every seat in the House of Representatives will be on the ballot this year. Unless there are major changes to the composition of the Delaware House, prohibition will almost surely continue in Delaware until there's a new governor in 2025. In the meantime, Delawareans — disproportionately Black and Brown Delawareans — will continue to be subjected to thousands of unnecessary, intrusive searches, stops, and citations for simple cannabis possession. Make sure you’re signed up for our email alerts, so we can let you know where primary and general election candidates stand on legalization.
A group of organizations, including MPP, are working together to regulate cannabis as the Delaware Cannabis Policy Coalition. Check out our website, contact your lawmakers in support of legalization, and consider getting more 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.
Regulators allow medical cannabis delivery; seven 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 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.
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 cannabis bill.
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. 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. 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.
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.