States that have both a medical marijuana law and have removed jail time for possessing small amounts of marijuana
Legislature approves bill to legalize cannabis possession for adults!
Last updated: May 17, 2022
For the first time ever, a legalization bill is headed to Gov. John Carney’s (D) desk. On May 5, 2022, Delaware’s House of Representatives voted (26-14) to approve HB 371, which would legalize possession of up to one ounce of cannabis for adults 21 and older. The Senate followed suit on May 12 in a 13-7 vote, with one absent.
National outrage has mounted after a traumatic search of the Delaware State University women’s lacrosse team in Georgia came to light. A deputy was recorded saying, “There's a bunch of dang schoolgirls on the truck. Probably some weed.” With no probable cause, local police brought in a drug-sniffing dog and searched student bags that were stored under the bus. The 45-minute stop and search, which involved male officers rifling through the young women’s underwear and menstrual products, found no contraband and resulted in no arrests or citations.
Gov. Carney and Delaware’s Congressional delegation condemned the search. But Carney can act to dramatically reduce the number of intrusive and humiliating searches in Delaware by signing HB 371 into law. During the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on HB 371, lawmakers heard testimony from a Black veteran, Meriah Peacock, who was subject to the same type of humiliating search in Delaware based on the supposed smell of cannabis. As was the case in Georgia, no contraband was discovered.
A group of organizations, including MPP, are working together to regulate marijuana 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.