Delaware

U.S.: Delaware on track to legalize recreational marijuana next year

There Is a Truth That Must Be Heard Delaware could very well live up to its nickname and become the first state to legalize marijuana through legislation, as the Adult Use Cannabis Task Force continues the effort to study the possibility.

The task force, comprised of several state agencies, was formed earlier this year through a concurrent resolution passed by the General Assembly to study the outcome of regulating and taxing marijuana for recreational use in Delaware for adults 21 and older.

The task force, co-chaired by State Senator Margaret Rose-Henry and State Representative Helene Keeley, has met once a month since its inception to discuss and study the possibility of legalizing marijuana recreationally.

Delaware: Governor and Lawmakers Expand Access to Medical Cannabis for PTSD Patients

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Senate Bill 24, signed last week, will improve access to treatment for Delaware veterans

By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

On July 12, Delaware Governor John Carney signed into law Senate Bill 24, which will expand access to medical marijuana treatment for Delaware veterans, and other Delawareans, suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Delaware: Bill Approved By Legislative Committee For Legalized Adult-use Marijuana, Moves To House

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

A bill to legalize marijuana for adults 21 and over and to create a taxed-and-regulated marijuana market in Delaware has passed the House Revenue and Finance Committee and will now move to the House floor for a full vote. The legislation would regulate and tax cannabis “in the same manner as alcohol,” allowing adults to purchase marijuana products, but makes no provisions for growing at home.

State Rep. Helene Keeley, a Democrat and sponsor of the bill, said she believes the measure will pass the House, which will likely take up the legislation after the legislature’s June recess.

“The numbers that we’re getting, about $22 (million) and $25 million on the conservative side that’s just off the sale,” Keeley said in a WMDT report. “If we actually look at this as an economic driver it makes perfect sense.”

Senate Majority Whip Margaret Rose Henry, a supporter of the measure, spoke out about it recently at a Medical Marijuana Act Oversight Committee meeting.

“Education is suffering," she said. "Revenue from legalizing marijuana could help struggling schools and seniors, among other causes and close major budget deficits in Delaware.”

The measure would allot 20 percent of tax revenues collected from legal cannabis sales to go to the Department of Education.

Delaware: Advocates Push For Marijuana Legalization

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Several speakers urged Delaware Gov. John Carney to change his mind and support the legalization of marijuana Wednesday at a roundtable discussion at Delaware Technical Community College's Wilmington campus.

“It’s time for this natural, organic, pure plant to be set free,” said Hector Ortez, a cancer survivor from Camden. “Everyone should have the human right to use cannabis legally. We are not criminals unless the law makes us criminals.”

Carney stayed mostly quiet as legislators, advocates and residents lauded the proposed Delaware Marijuana Control Act.

The governor has voiced his opposition to the bill but says he is willing to hear from all sides. "I'm here to listen," Carney said at the outset of the discussion.

"Times are changing," said state Rep. Helene Keeley, D-South Wilmington, sponsor of the bill that would legalize, tax and regulate marijuana. "As people become more educated and get past misconceptions, there has been growing support."

tate Sen. Margaret Rose Henry, D-Wilmington East and the bill's Senate sponsor, said it was an issue of "criminal and social justice."

"If you look at our prison system, there are a lot of people in jail for low-level drug crimes that don't belong there," Henry said. "If this legislation passes, we won't be arresting people unnecessarily."

Delaware: Lawmakers Confident They Have Enough Votes To Legalize Marijuana For Adults

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Delaware lawmakers say they have enough votes to pass legislation to make marijuana legal for adult use, and to set up a regulated and taxed marijuana industry in the state. They are opposed, however, by the Delaware Police Chiefs’ Council and Democratic Gov. John Carney, the News Journal reported.

State Rep. Helene Keeley (D) and state Sen. Margaret Rose Henry (D) estimated that a legal and regulated cannabis market could generate $22 million in tax revenues for the state during its first year.

“As the only state in a seven-hour drive to have legalized marijuana, we would become a destination that would attract out-of-state sales, which would have a benefit to our Delaware businesses,” Keeley said in the report.

Henry said legalizing cannabis is “a social justice issue” rather than budgetary, indicating that the measure works to that end by legalizing “something that people always have done and are doing.” Delaware currently faces a $386 million budget deficit.

“Unfortunately, there’s a lot of negatives that also come with it, and we’re against the bill,” said Jeffrey Horvath, executive director for the Delaware Police Chief’s Council. He added that law enforcement officials in Colorado have told him “the black market is stronger” than before legalization and “teen marijuana use also has increased.”

Minnesota: PTSD Added to List of Qualifying Conditions For Medical Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

The Minnesota Department of Health is adding post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to its list of conditions that can qualify patients for medical marijuana.

Minnesota now joins New Jersey, Michigan, California, Illinois, Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, New Mexico, Arizona, Washington, Rhode Island and Oregon as states that allow those with PTSD to legally use medical cannabis.

A large amount of research has led to the conclusion that medical marijuana can be useful for "innovative intervention strategies (e.g. pharmacological enhancement of exposure-based therapy) in PTSD and other fear learning-related disorders,” according to a government-funded study released in 2014.

Another study released in 2015 found that; “When inhaled or delivered orally or transdermally, cannabinoids (the psychoactive components of unrefined marijuana and various derivative products) activate endogenous cannabinoid receptors, modulating neurotransmitter release and producing a wide range of central nervous system effects, including increased pleasure and alteration of memory processes…. Those effects provide a pharmacologic rationale for the use of cannabinoids to manage the three core PTSD symptom clusters: reexperiencing, avoidance and numbing, and hyperarousal.”

Delaware: Rally For Marijuana Legalization Held In Newark

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Dozens attended a rally Sunday in Newark, Delaware, calling for the legalization of marijuana on the eve of the 83rd anniversary of the end of alcohol prohibition.

The rally was hosted by the Cannabis Bureau of Delaware, and was aimed to inform the public how marijuana legalization can come to be in Delaware.

Zoe Patchell, co-chairman of Cannabis Bureau of Delaware, said it begins with contacting state representatives and legislators in support of legalization.

"Cannabis prohibition is just as ineffective and problematic as alcohol prohibition and it's causing negative consequences to our communities here in Delaware and wasting millions in resources and police manpower," she added.

"Right now we have 61 percent of Delawareans that support taxing regulated cannabis like alcohol," Patchell said.

The group has bipartisan support in the General Assembly to pass a taxation and regulation bill in 2017, Patchell said. Delaware is not a voter-initiative state, so supporters are trying to make Delaware the first state to legalize marijuana through legislation.

The legalization of marijuana use in Arkansas, Colorado, Oregon, Washington, Massachusetts, California, Nevada, and Maine was voted upon. Marijuana is taxed and regulated similarly to alcohol and tobacco in all those states.

Delaware: Traffic Stop Yields Marijuana, Loaded Gun, Drug Money

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

A traffic stop in Dover, Delaware Monday led to the arrest of a man, and the seizure of more than 390 grams of marijuana, drug proceeds, and a loaded handgun.

Police arrested Giovanni Echevarria, 26, after stopping his car at about 6:43 pm, Master Cpl. Mark Hoffman said. Police detected a strong marijuana odor as they approached the car, leading to a search, he said.

The search yielded 392.8 grams of marijuana, a loaded 9mm Ruger handgun, and $6,509 in drug proceeds, Hoffman said.

Echevarria was charged with failure to wear a seat belt, driving with a suspended license, possession with intent to deliver marijuana with an aggravating factor, possession of drug paraphernalia, possession of firearm by a prohibited person, carrying a concealed deadly weapon and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony.

He was taken to Vaughn Correctional Center near Smyrna after failing to post $9,201 secured bail.

Photo courtesy Dover Police

Delaware: Marijuana Decriminalization Law To Take Effect Friday

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Marijuana decriminalization legislation adopted earlier this year in Delaware will officially take effect on Friday, making it the 19th state in the nation to remove the threat of jail for simple marijuana possession. (A 20th state, Missouri, has a similar law on the books that goes into effect in 2017.)

“Delaware’s marijuana policy is about to become a lot more reasonable,” said Karen O’Keefe, director of state policies for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). “Most people agree adults should not face jail time or the life-altering consequences of a criminal record just for possessing a substance that is safer than alcohol. Taxpayers certainly don’t want to foot the bill for it, and fortunately they will not have to any longer.”

Under current Delaware law, possession of up to one ounce of marijuana is a misdemeanor with a maximum punishment of a $575 fine and three months in jail.

Once HB 39 takes effect, the possession or private use of one ounce or less of marijuana will no longer trigger criminal penalties or create a criminal record for adults 21 years of age and older. Instead, it will be a civil violation punishable by a $100 fine.

Adults between the ages of 18 and 20 will face the same $100 civil fine for their first offense, then an unclassified misdemeanor for subsequent offenses, which they can have expunged from their records when they reach age 21. Marijuana possession by minors and public consumption by people of any age will remain misdemeanors.

Delaware: Medical Marijuana Research Given Go Ahead

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Delaware lawmakers recently voted to allow facilities in the state to research the potential medical benefits of marijuana.

The vote came more than four years after the Delaware General Assembly legalized medical marijuana, but just days after the the state's very first marijuana dispensary opened in an industrial park west of Wilmington reports Jonathan Starkey at The News Journal.

"Delaware has the opportunity here to be in the forefront pioneering research," said Deb McPherson, one of about 400 state residents who have an ID card allowing them to buy medicinal cannabis to help treat a medical condition. Cancer, Alzheimer's disease, PTSD and conditions causing intractable nausea, severe pain or seizures qualify for medical marijuana in Delaware.

The legislation, signed by Gov. Jack Markell last month, allows facilities that meet FDA standards to initiate research on potential medical benefits of marijuana.

"Since the state has approved the use of marijuana for medical purposes, it makes sense to research what those medical purposes might be," said Jonathan Dworkin, a spokesman for Gov. Markell. "Given recent steps taken by the federal government to remove barriers to medical marijuana research ... we are hopeful that there will be a trend toward allowing more of it."

Delaware: Governor Markell Signs Marijuana Decriminalization Bill Into Law

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Delaware becomes 20th state in the nation to remove the threat of jail for simple marijuana possession

Delaware Gov. Jack Markell signed a bill into law Thursday night that will remove criminal penalties and potential jail time for adult possession of a small amount of marijuana. The Delaware Senate approved the bill 12-9 earlier in the evening. The new law will take effect in six months.

HB 39, introduced by Rep. Helene Keeley (D-Wilmington South) in the House and sponsored by Judiciary Committee Chair Margaret Rose Henry (D-Wilmington East) in the Senate, will replace criminal penalties for adult marijuana possession with a civil fine similar to a traffic ticket. Under current Delaware law, possession of up to one ounce of marijuana is a misdemeanor with a maximum punishment of a $575 fine and three months in jail.

Delaware is the 20th state to decriminalize marijuana possession or make it legal for adults. Nineteen other states and the District of Columbia have adopted laws removing the threat of jail time for simple marijuana possession, four of which also regulate marijuana similarly to alcohol. The Illinois General Assembly approved a similar measure in May, which is now awaiting action from the governor.

Delaware: Legislature Decriminalizes Marijuana Possession; Governor Expected To Sign

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The Delaware Senate on Thursday approved a bill 12-9 on Thursday that would remove criminal penalties and potential jail time for adult possession of a small amount of marijuana.

The measure, which was approved in the House earlier this month, will now be sent to Gov. Jack Markell (D), who is expected to sign it into law. In a March letter to the editor of The New York Times, Gov. Jack Markell said he is “hopeful that [his] state will decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana.”

HB 39, introduced by Rep. Helene Keeley (D-Wilmington South) in the House and sponsored by Judiciary Committee Chair Margaret Rose Henry (D-Wilmington East) in the Senate, would replace criminal penalties for adult marijuana possession with a civil fine similar to a traffic ticket. Under current Delaware law, possession of up to one ounce of marijuana is a misdemeanor with a maximum punishment of a $575 fine and three months in jail.

“Laws that criminalize people for simple marijuana possession are outdated and counterproductive,” Rep. Keeley said. “Delaware is taking an appropriate step to right size the penalty for small quantity possession.”

“Senate action on this bill is commonsense and will remove the potential implication a criminal record can have for a person seeking employment, housing, and education,” Sen. Henry said. “It is important to more appropriately penalize people in possession of marijuana for personal use.”

Delaware: Senate Committee Approves Bill To Remove Criminal Penalties For Marijuana

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The Delaware Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday approved a bill 4-2 that would remove criminal penalties and potential jail time for simple adult marijuana possession and replace them with a civil fine similar to a traffic ticket. The measure will now be considered by the full Senate.

HB 39, introduced by Rep. Helene Keeley (D-Wilmington South) in the House and sponsored by Judiciary Committee Chair Margaret Rose Henry (D-Wilimington East) in the Senate, would make possession of up to one ounce of marijuana by an adult a civil violation punishable by a $100 fine with no possibility of jail. Under current Delaware law, possession of up to one ounce of marijuana is a misdemeanor punishable by up to a $575 fine and up to three months in jail.

The House of Representatives approved HB 39 on June 2, and Gov. Jack Markell (D) said in a March letter to the editor of The New York Times that he is “hopeful that [his] state will decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana.”

“Adults should not face potentially life-altering criminal penalties simply for possessing a small amount of marijuana,” Sen. Henry said. "The potential impact for employment, housing, and education are too severe under current law for the violation.”

Delaware: House Approves Bill To Remove Criminal Penalties For Marijuana Possession

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Senate will now consider HB 39, which would replace potential jail time with a civil fine for possession of a small amount of marijuana by adults

The Delaware House of Representatives on Tuesday approved a bill 24-14 that would remove criminal penalties and potential jail time for possession of a small amount of marijuana and replace them with a civil fine similar to a traffic ticket. The bill, which was amended on the floor to apply only to adults, will now be sent to the Senate.

HB 39, introduced by Rep. Helene Keeley (D-Wilmington South), would make possession of up to one ounce of marijuana by an adult a civil violation punishable by a $100 fine with no possibility of jail. Under current Delaware law, possession of up to one ounce of marijuana is a misdemeanor punishable by up to a $575 fine and up to three months in jail.

“Laws that criminalize people for simple marijuana possession are outdated and counterproductive,” said Robert Capecchi, deputy director of state policies for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). “We’re grateful the Delaware House agrees and hopeful that the Senate will join them in supporting this commonsense legislation.

"Delaware cannot afford to continue arresting people, jailing them, and giving them criminal records just for possessing a small amount of marijuana,” Capecchi said.

Delaware: House Committee Approves Bill Removing Criminal Penalties For Marijuana Possession

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The Delaware House of Representatives Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee on Wednesday approved a bill 5-4 that would remove criminal penalties and potential jail time for possession of a small amount of marijuana and replace them with a civil fine similar to a traffic ticket. The bill now moves to the full House for consideration.

HB 39, introduced by Rep. Helene Keeley (D-Wilmington South), would make possession of up to one ounce of marijuana a civil violation punishable by a $100 fine with no possibility of jail. Under current Delaware law, possession of up to one ounce of marijuana is a misdemeanor punishable by up to a $575 fine and up to three months in jail.

“This is a modest, commonsense policy change that is long overdue in Delaware,” Rep. Keeley said. “Simply possessing a small amount of marijuana does not warrant jail time and the other serious consequences of a criminal conviction. The punishment should fit the crime, not cause more harm than the crime.”

More than two-thirds of Delaware voters (68 percent) support removing criminal penalties for marijuana possession and making it a civil offense, punishable by a fine of up to $100 with no possibility of jail time, according to a statewide survey conducted in March by Public Policy Polling. Only 26 percent said they were opposed. Full results are available at http://www.mpp.org/DEpoll.

Delaware: Lawmakers To Consider Removing Criminal Penalties For Marijuana Possession

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Delaware State Rep. Helene Keeley (D-Wilmington South) on Thursday introduced a bill that would remove criminal penalties and potential jail time for possession of a small amount of marijuana and replace them with a civil fine similar to a traffic ticket.

HB 39 would make possession of up to one ounce of marijuana a civil violation punishable by a $100 fine with no possibility of jail. Under current Delaware law, possession of up to one ounce of marijuana is a misdemeanor punishable by up to a $575 fine and up to three months in jail.

“This is commonsense legislation that is long overdue in Delaware,” Rep. Keeley said. “People should not face jail time and other serious consequences of a criminal conviction just for possessing a small amount of marijuana.

"The punishment should fit the crime, not cause more harm than the crime,” Keeley said.

In Delaware, African Americans are three times more likely than whites to be arrested for marijuana possession despite using marijuana at similar rates, according to a 2013 report compiled by the American Civil Liberties Union.

“Our current marijuana possession law is unfair, and it is being unfairly applied,” Rep. Keeley said. “The vast majority of Delaware voters think it’s time for a more sensible policy. I hope my colleagues will agree.”

Delaware: New Poll Shows Majority Support For Marijuana Legalization

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A new University of Delaware poll finds that 56 percent of Delaware adults support legalization of marijuana.

The university polled 902 state residents between September 10 and 22, finding just 39 percent are opposed to legalization, reports Jonathan Starkey at The News Journal. Residents older than 60 and self-identified conservatives were the only demographic groups to strongly oppose marijuana, while young adults and liberals were heavily in support.

Support crossed racial and geographic boundaries, with respondents in all three of Delaware's counties saying they back legal weed.

"I would say the numbers suggest solid support for fully legalizing marijuana in Delaware," said Paul Brewer, political communications professor at the University of Delaware, who supervised the poll. "The results also reflect what's going on in public opinion at the national level, where the trends show a growing majority favoring legalization."

Just 36.9 percent of Delawareans 60 or older favored legalization, while 68 percent of those under 30 supported the move. Among self-identified conservatives, just 39.2 percent favored legalization; among liberals, 73 percent said they think cannabis should be legal.

Delaware: Lawmakers To Hold Hearing On Removing Criminal Penalties For Marijuana

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Advocates will urge the House Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee to support a measure that would replace possible jail time with a civil fine similar to a traffic ticket; the hearing is scheduled for 12:30 p.m. ET in the House Minority Caucus Room

The Delaware House of Representatives Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee is scheduled to hold a hearing Wednesday on a proposal to remove criminal penalties for adult marijuana possession.

The committee will consider an amended version of HB 371, sponsored by Rep. Helene Keeley (D-Wilmington), which would make possession of up to one ounce of marijuana a civil offense, punishable by a fine, similar to a traffic ticket. Under current Delaware law, possession of any amount of marijuana is a Class B misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of up to $1,150 and up to six months in jail.

“Nobody should be saddled with a criminal record simply for possessing a substance that is less harmful than alcohol,” said Rachelle Yeung, a legislative analyst for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), who will be at the hearing to testify in support of the bill. “A marijuana conviction can haunt individuals for the rest of their lives, depriving them of educational opportunities, employment, and public housing.

"Law enforcement officials’ time would be better spent addressing serious crimes instead of arresting and prosecuting adults for marijuana possession,” Yeung said.

Delaware: More Than Two-Thirds of Voters Support Removing Criminal Penalties For Marijuana

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A majority support making marijuana legal for adults, and regulating and taxing it like alcohol; only 41 percent opposed

More than two-thirds of Delaware voters -- 68 percent -- support removing criminal penalties for marijuana possession and making it a civil offense, punishable by a fine of up to $100 with no possibility of jail time, according to a Public Policy Polling survey released Tuesday by the Marijuana Policy Project. Only 26 percent said they were opposed.

Under current Delaware law, it is a criminal offense for a person to possess a small amount of marijuana, and he or she can be sentenced to up to six months in jail and fined up to $1,150.

"The era of criminalizing people for marijuana possession is over," said Robert Capecchi, deputy director of state policies for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). "Nobody should face life-altering criminal penalties and time in jail simply for possessing a small amount of a substance that is less harmful than alcohol. We hope legislators will listen to their constituents and move quickly to end this draconian policy."

The poll also found a majority of Delaware voters (51 percent) support making marijuana legal for adults, and regulating and taxing it like alcohol. Only 41 percent said they were opposed.

"Most Delaware voters agree it is time to move beyond the failed policy of marijuana prohibition and start taking a more sensible approach," Capecchi said.

Delaware: Medical Marijuana Advocates Recommend Revising Compassion Center Regulations

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Proposed rules would create supply problems for patients

The Marijuana Policy Project on Tuesday submitted comments recommending revisions to the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services’ proposed medical marijuana compassion center regulations. MPP is particularly concerned that the proposed rules would result in an inadequate supply of medical marijuana by allowing only a single compassion center — instead of the three provided for in the law — and allowing it to grow only 150 plants.

Failing to allow for an appropriate and consistent supply will cause qualifying patients to either have to continue frequenting the criminal market or suffering without a medicine that can improve their quality of life, according to MPP. It will also seriously compromise the financial sustainability of successful compassion center applicants, according to the organization.

Delaware is one of 20 states and the District of Columbia to allow patients to use marijuana to treat certain medical conditions, but development of compassion centers to provide safe access to their medicine was temporarily halted in 2011. In August, Gov. Jack Markell decided to move forward with implementing a more limited program and tasked the Division of Public Health with setting the rules for compassion center licensing and operation.

Since Gov. Markell’s announcement, the U.S. Department of Justice has released a new memo that provides that federal prosecutors should not target dispensaries based on their size alone.

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