Del. Senate votes to legalize adult possession of marijuana
DOVER, Del. – The Delaware Senate has passed legislation to remove penalties for the adult possession of small amounts of marijuana, paving the way for legal adult recreational marijuana.
House Bill 371 would remove all penalties for possession of one ounce or less of marijuana for anyone older than 21 years of age. Possession of more than none ounce of marijuana and public consumption would remain unclassified misdemeanors.
Under current state law, the possession of one ounce or less of marijuana by a person 21 years of age or older carries a civil penalty of $100, however, that provision would be eliminated under HB371.
This bill is part of a two-pronged effort to legalize and regulate adult recreational marijuana in Delaware. Previous attempts to pass one bill legalizing adult recreational marijuana and regulating the cultivation, sale, and possession of marijuana have fallen short in the House of Representatives, which has prompted the sponsors to separate the main components of the effort into two bills.
The companion legislation, House Bill 372, cleared the House Appropriations Committee on Tuesday and could be acted upon in the House in the coming weeks. HB372 would create a legal framework for the regulation of the cultivation, sale, and possession of marijuana, and would provide opportunities for small businesses to be licensed.
Neither bill would change existing state law regarding driving under the influence of an illicit or recreational drug. The legislation also would not allow individuals to grow their own plants, and public consumption of marijuana would still not be permitted. Employer prohibitions against the consumption of cannabis also largely would not change, as employers would be permitted to drug test workers for marijuana to ensure any zero-tolerance policies are being followed. They would also be able to discipline workers for being under the influence at work and prohibit the consumption of marijuana at work.
HB371 heads to Governor John Carney for his signature.