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

StateLegislaturesTakingOnMarijuanaPolicyIn2015[MPP]

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“Laws that criminalize people for simple marijuana possession are outdated and counterproductive,” said Robert Capecchi, deputy director of state policies for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP).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.

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