|“Hi, we’re in Delaware.”|
A proposal just now working its way through the Delaware House would make the possession of up to an ounce of herb legal in the state for adults 21 and up. The bill would not allow public consumption or allow for legal cultivation. So if you if procure it illegally and avoid law enforcement who can still bust you for selling and purchasing pot, at least you can smoke it in your house.
Delaware state Rep. Helene Keeley, a Democrat from Wlimington sponsoring the bill, admits that with about a month left in the 2014 session, the bill isn’t likely to go very far.
“This is to start dialogue,” Keeley told the News-Journal. “I think that society is evolving just like it evolved when it came to same sex marriage.”
Her co-sponsor, state Sen. Bryan Townsend, said it is time to stop looking at marijuana as a hard drug and be realistic about who is using it and the consequences of keeping it illegal.
“So many people’s entry into the criminal justice system involves possession or use of very small amounts of marijuana,” Townsend said. “There are very serious drugs, we need to treat people’s addictions and we need to penalize drug dealers. In my mind, marijuana is not in the same grouping as a lot of the drugs we need to be focusing our efforts on.”
A recent study conducted by the Marijuana Policy Project showed that as much as two-thirds of the state would favor marijuana decriminalization.
Gov. Jack Markell has said in the past that he does not favor legalization or loosening marijuana laws. But a spokeswoman with the governors office yesterday said that Markell is now willing to talk about options for the state.
“[Markell] has expressed interest in ongoing dialogue regarding changing the penalty for possession of small amounts of marijuana,” spokeswoman Kelly Bachman said. “This bill provides another opportunity to do so. He looks forward to those conversations.”
Marijuana possession in Delaware – any amount – is a misdemeanor charge with up to six months in jail and $1,150 in fines. If it’s within 1,000 feet of a school or within 300 feet of a park or a church/house of worship you’re looking at a felony charge with up to 15 years in jail and $250,000 in fines. Seriously. If you learn anything from this it should be that you never smoke a joint in a park in Delaware.