Delaware is now the 20th state to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana as Governor Jack Markell (D) signed House Bill 39 into law Thursday night. The law will take effect in six months.
The state Senate approved the bill 12-9—however not a single state Republican senators voted in favor of the bill Thursday nor did a single one support the bill when it passed the House earlier in the month.
“We commend Gov. Markell and the Delaware Legislature for moving the state forward and leaving its antiquated marijuana possession law behind,” Robert Capecchi, deputy director of state policies for the Marijuana Policy Project, said in a statement. “Adults in Delaware will no longer be branded as criminals simply for consuming a substance that is undeniably less harmful than alcohol. Law enforcement officials will be able to spend more time addressing serious crimes instead of arresting and prosecuting adults for simple marijuana possession.”
The decrim measure eliminate criminal penalties adults possessing up to one ounce of marijuana for personal use. As a result marijuana possession is now a civil offense and only punishable by $100 fine. Sales however still remain illegal. According to a recent American Civil Liberties Union study, cited by the Huffpost, current marijuana laws in Delaware have a disproportionate impact on African-Americans—despite similar rates of marijuana use, blacks are three times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than whites in the state, according toy.
The bill was introduced by state Rep. Helene Keeley (D) in the House and sponsored by Judiciary Committee Chair Margaret Rose Henry (D) in the Senate. Now that it’s final Delaware is now the 20th state as well as the District of Columbia to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana possession—four of those states that have legalized marijuana for recreational use. And the number of states to remove pot posssion penalties may soon increase. A similar bill to the Delaware decrim measure was recently approved in Illinois and is awaiting Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner’s signature.
Read about the law taking effect: http://stuffstonerslike.com/2015/12/delaware-decriminalizes-marijuana-today/