The tides are surely changing on cannabis reform in the United States with so many states either decriminalizing or straight-up legalizing the plant. Delaware has become the 18th state to take serious steps towards lessening cannabis possession charges through decriminalization thanks to governor Jack Markell. Here are 6 key facts you should know about the new law, Delaware and marijuana.
1. Letter to the Editor
In a letter to the Editor of The New York Times, Jack Markell spoke out against the loss of driver’s licences of those convicted of a non-violent drug crime. He states that a driver’s licence is crucial to maintaining a job, and says the 800 nonviolent offenders in Delaware will have their driver’s licences returned this year.
2. Partisan Support
The Delaware senate approved the bill with a 12-9 vote, decriminalizing cannabis possession and use for those over 21. Governor Jack Markell signed the bill immediately after it passed the senate, despite strong opposition from all Republicans and local police who surely would see their budgets cut if enforcement of marijuana went into decline.
3. Land of the Free
Citizens of Delaware are allowed to possess up to an ounce of marijuana and use it in the privacy of their homes without facing prosecution.
4. You Can Still Get in Trouble
The law does not cover people possessing over an ounce of marijuana, those in possession under the age of 21 or those smoking in a moving vehicle and public places (within 10 feet of windows or sidewalks). The sale of cannabis is also illegal and can land sellers in hot water. Criminal penalties for those caught with the drug in public will include a 100 dollar fine.
5. Don’t Light Those Joints Yet
The Delaware bill will take effect in December. Cannabis still remains illegal under federal law.
6. Common Sense Reform
After the signing of the bill, Markell’s press released this statement:
“The governor remains committed to reducing the number of people entering the criminal justice system and refocusing resources where they are needed most. House Bill 39 supports these efforts.”
The future of Cannabis decriminalization in Delaware still has plenty of grey areas. Until 2000, Delaware was a swing state with no real political leaning but recently it has become increasingly blue. The success of progressive cannabis reform usually lies with the populous it is imposed upon. Although legalization may not be in the near future for Delaware, they certainly seem to be starting to see the benefits of reform.
Our hats go off to Governor Jack Markell for bringing progressive change to Delaware.
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