Delaware

(Last update: January 14, 2020)

Medical Marijuana: Yes

Recreational Marijuana: No

Decriminalized: Yes

In-Home Cultivation: -


Legislature reconvenes; legalization bill pending action

The General Assembly reconvened for the second half of its two-year legislative session on Tuesday, January 14. Last year, HB 110, a bill to legalize, tax, and regulate cannabis for adults 21 and older was introduced and passed the House Revenue and Finance Committee (7-1).

Bills pick up where they left off in 2019, so HB 110 is pending action in the House Appropriations Committee. You can read our full summary of the bill here.

Gov. Carney signs medical cannabis expansion bill
A bill expanding Delaware's medical cannabis program was sent to Gov. Carney's desk on June 30, 2019 and signed into law on September 10, 2019. The bill, Senate Substitute 1 for SB 24, expands the universe of patients who qualify for medical cannabis. To qualify, a patient’s physician must certify that the patient has a severe and debilitating condition, current standard care practices and treatments have been exhausted, and there are grounds to support that the patient may benefit from this treatment.

Meanwhile, HB 243, which would allow registered medical patients to grow their own cannabis, was introduced in 2019 and is currently pending in the House Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee. The bill would allow patients to grow up to six mature cannabis plants in an enclosed facility.

Governor signs marijuana expungement bills

In both 2018 and 2019, Gov. John Carney signed bills to expand expungement, including for marijuana convictions.

The 2018 law — SB 197 — allows individuals with a single conviction for possessing up to an ounce of marijuana to automatically qualify to clear their record. To receive an expungement, individuals must first request their certified records from the State Bureau of Identification. Then, they pay a fee and fill out a form to apply for mandatory expungement.

On June 30, 2019, Gov. Carney signed SB 37 into law. This bill allows for a single cannabis misdemeanor conviction to be expunged after five years and a single cannabis felony conviction to be expunged after seven years.

Delaware’s decriminalization law

In December 2015, Delaware’s bill to decriminalize marijuana possession took effect. HB 39, which passed the General Assembly and was signed into law by then-Governor Jack Markell, made possession of up to one ounce of marijuana by adults a civil violation punishable by a $100 fine with no possibility of jail. Possession of up to an ounce of marijuana was previously a misdemeanor punishable by up to a $575 fine and up to three months in jail. See MPP’s summary of HB 39 for further details.

On July 31, 2019, Gov. Carney signed SB 45 into law, which expands the decriminalization to those under 21 years old.

While decriminalization was an important reform, it is no substitute for regulating marijuana for adults’ use. A $100 fine can be an extreme hardship to low-income residents, and decriminalization did nothing to take marijuana sales off of the sometimes dangerous illicit market. Don’t forget to ask your lawmakers to support regulating marijuana.

Six medical marijuana compassion centers now open

Almost four years after the state’s medical marijuana act was signed into law, Delaware’s first compassion center — First State Compassion — opened to qualified patients on June 26, 2015 in Wilmington. There are now six medical marijuana compassion centers open throughout the state. You can find a compassion center location here.

The Department of Health continues to accept applications for medical marijuana ID cards, which are required for patients seeking to obtain their medicine from a compassion center. If you are interested in obtaining your medical marijuana ID card, please visit the medical marijuana program’s website or call them at (302) 744-4749 to receive application forms. If you have further questions about the medical marijuana program, please see our summary of the law.