On December 18, Delaware became the 19th state to decriminalize marijuana, joining the crowd of states looking to lessen the number of individuals incarcerated for low levels of marijuana.
While it’s still not legal in the state, under new law, which was signed in June by Governor Jack Markel, any individual caught with up to an ounce of marijuana will be charged with a civil offense; they can be ticketed and fined up to $100. It will be treated more like a traffic ticket and can be settled out of court.
The hope is that citizens will not be plagued for life with jail sentences and criminal records, which can effect everything from housing applications to job opportunities. Now, any citizen over the age of 18 will be able to possess low levels of marijuana.
“I view it as the same as somebody having a glass of wine,” said Representative Helene Keeley, who initially introduced the legislation.
It will still be illegal for citizens under the age of 18 to possess the drug in any amount, and smoking in public or in a moving vehicle will also remain illegal. The law also has certain rules about people who are caught with marijuana while committing another crime, and the penalties are more severe.
Delaware’s fist medical marijuana dispensary opened in June of 2015 after the legislation was passed in 2011. It currently allows for each county in Delaware to have a dispensary; the dispensaries cultivate and sell the marijuana themselves. Each dispensary is allowed to cultivate 150 plants and may not hold more than 1500 ounces of the drug.
As of this summer, 340 patients had enrolled in the program. Qualifying conditions include diseases that cause intense nausea, pain, or seizures, as well as cancer, Alzheimer’s, and PTSD.
Live in a legal state? Find the best deals and dispensaries here.
Curious in legalization across the nation?