Recreational use of marijuana is currently illegal in the state of Delaware, but the possession of small quantities is decriminalized. However, cannabis use by adult patients for medical reasons is allowed.
In 2011 a law was passed that permitted marijuana use for specific severe conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, and states that lead to severe pain or seizures, intractable nausea, among other diseases.
Delaware’s Decriminalization Law
In June 2015, possession of an ounce or less of cannabis by an adult was decriminalized in legislation signed off by Governor Markell. However, possession of marijuana is still a civil violation attracting a fine of $100 but no jail time. This bill started being enforced in December 2015.
Under this law, minors under the age of 21 are not allowed to possess marijuana. Also, smoking cannabis in a public area, a moving vehicle, or outside in a private area 10 feet away from a sidewalk, street, or any other open space is a misdemeanor.
Medical Cannabis Expansion Bills
A bill seeking to expand the medical use of marijuana in Delaware was submitted to Governor Carney at the end of June 2019. This bill, SB 24, will make it legal for patients with extreme and debilitating illnesses to use medical marijuana if they have exhaustively tried other alternative options that have severe side effects or have become ineffective.
Also, HB 243, which will permit registered medical patients to grow their marijuana plants (1), has been introduced and is awaiting debate in the House Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee. If passed, this bill would make it legal for patients to grow a maximum of 6 plants in a confined area.
HB 110 House Bill To Legalize Marijuana
HB 110 was introduced on May 16, 2019 (2), to allow adults who are over 21 years to possess and consume under one ounce of cannabis. Consequently, the House Revenue and Finance Committee approved it 7-1 on June 5. The bill has now moved to the House Appropriations Committee. If passed and eventually signed into law, legalization will be gradually implemented.
A state marijuana commissioner office will approve licenses and be responsible for regulatory oversight of the industry. They will have the mandate to issue test facility and retail licenses, endorse construction sites and product manufacturers. Cannabis cultivation at home will not be allowed under this bill.
HB 110 is still pending in the legislature as the house adjourned without voting on it. The bill will thus roll over and will be picked up in January 2020. If passed and signed into law, HB 110 will provide a comprehensive legal framework to permit, regulate, and tax marijuana possession and use in Delaware State.