Despite being one of the smallest states in the United States, Delaware has been among the most progressive when it comes to marijuana legalization. The state has passed comprehensive medical marijuana legislation, and with small possession of recreational marijuana having been recently decriminalized, Delaware could become one of the next states to fully legalize marijuana for adult use.
Recreational Marijuana in Delaware
Small possession of personal marijuana, up to 1 ounce, is considered a civil penalty and is susceptible to a maximum fine of $100.
The possession 1 ounce to less than 175 grams of marijuana is a misdemeanor, punishable by 3 months imprisonment and fine of $575. The possession or more than 175 grams is a felony, punishable to 3 to 25 years in prison.
Medical Marijuana in Delaware
The Delaware Medical Marijuana Act (Senate Bill 17), signed into law in 2011, legalized medical marijuana for patients with a written certification from a physician and an identification card. Patients can send a copy of their written certification to the Department of Health and Social Services to be issued an ID card, which will allow them to purchase medicinal cannabis from a compassion center and protect them from arrest.
Under the law, patients can possess up to 6 ounces of medical marijuana. They must register with only one compassion center, which cannot dispense more than 3 ounces of marijuana over a 14-day period.
Delaware’s medical marijuana program has approved the following conditions:
- Agitation of Alzheimer’s Disease
- Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)
- Autism with Aggressive or Self-Injurious Behavior
- Decompensated Cirrhosis
- Intractable Epilepsy
- Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Terminal Illness
- A chronic or debilitating disease or medical condition or its treatments that producers one or more of the following:
Originally, the law required that patients need to be 18 and older, but in 2015 Gov. Jack Markell signed a bill that legalized marijuana based-oils for minors under 18. Patients who are minors can only be recommended cannabidiol oil (CBD) containing at least 15 percent CBD and no more than 7 percent THC, and/or oils containing 15 percent THC acid and no more than 7 percent THC.
The following conditions have been approved for minors:
- Intractable Epilepsy
- A chronic or debilitating disease or medical condition where they have failed treatment involving one or more of the following symptoms:
As of September 2016, qualified minors are legally allowed to use medicinal cannabis while on school grounds, thanks to the passing of Senate Bill 181, signed into law by Gov. Jack Markell.
Consumption of CBD from Hemp Oil in Delaware
Hemp-derived CBD products are legal under Federal Law in the United States; however, individual state laws are dynamic and fluid. Individual states may enact their own laws governing hemp-derived CBD.
Cultivation of Cannabis in Delaware
Personal cultivation of marijuana, even for medical purposes, is illegal in Delaware.
Growing hemp in Delaware is legal in certain circumstances. In 2014, Delaware lawmakers approved House Bill 385 to permit any higher education institution to grow or cultivate hemp for the purpose of agricultural or academic research. The General Assembly then passed Senate Bill 266 in August 2018 to permit the Department of Agriculture to adopt policies and regulations needed to permit the growing of hemp in anticipation of hemp cultivation becoming federally legal.
After the Farm Bill 2018 legalized hemp under federal law, the Delaware Department of Agriculture announced in March 2019 that it had launched the Delaware Hemp Research Pilot Program in partnership with Delaware State University’s College of Agriculture and Related Sciences. The program permits research institutions to determine which hemp varieties will perform well for producing fiber and CBD oil.
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