Delaware Senate Committee Approves Bill to Remove Criminal Penalties for Cannabis Possession

delawareThe Delaware Senate Judiciary Committee approved a bill 4 to 2 on Wednesday that would remove criminal penalties and the possibility of jail time for those caught possessing up to an ounce of cannabis, instead making it a simple civil infraction similar to a traffic ticket.

House Bill 39, introduced by Representative Helene Keeley (D-Wilmington South), passed the full House of Representatives earlier this month with a 24 to 14 vote. It would decriminalize the possession of up to an ounce of cannabis, making it, at most, a simple $100 fine with no possibility of jail. Under current Delaware law, possession of up to one ounce of cannabis is a misdemeanor punishable by up to three months in jail.

“Adults should not face potentially life-altering criminal penalties simply for possessing a small amount of marijuana,” says Senator Margaret Rose Henry, Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee. “The potential impact for employment, housing, and education are too severe under current law for the violation.”

House Bill 39 is now up for a full Senate vote, which will send it to Governor Jack Markell (D) for consideration, who said in a March letter he is “hopeful that [his] state will decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana.”


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