Good news for marijuana consumers in Delaware – democratic lawmakers have finally decided to remove all the penalties for possession by adults over 21 years of age. The new bill that would decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana imposes only a $100 fine for consuming marijuana in public. With this move, Delaware follows the lead of nearly 20 US states that have decided to loosen their laws on non-medical use of marijuana.
What it really means for marijuana consumers
If you are an adult of 21 or older and you were stopped by your local police officer who discovered your pockets are hiding the precious greens, you don’t have to worry anymore – if the found marijuana was for personal use. And when we say personal, we mean that you were “caught” with 1 ounce or less. The police officer will smile and let you go your way. However, if that same police officer caught you smoking pot in a public place, such as a park or the streets and sidewalks, you would have to pay a $100 fine. If you compare this to the current law, which says that marijuana possession is a “misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail and a maximum fine of $1,150”, you have to admit that the odds are very much different now and in favor of the marijuana consumers.
Will The New Bill Have a Positive Effect?
If it becomes part of the legislation, we certainly feel it will have a positive effect on society as a whole. For now, the bill has the support of Democrats, 15 of them from the House and Senate, however, no Republicans on its side. Like that’s a surprise. The supporters say decriminalizing marijuana, small amounts of it, will have the effect of removing the burden from prisons and the justice system would recover from unnecessary prosecutions of people who enjoyed marijuana or consumed it for medical purposes. Delaware was the 16th state to legalize medical marijuana, however, the implementation of the program was stopped and to date, no dispensaries were open.
The First Step Towards Legalization and Retail Sales
We have all learned the difference between decriminalization and legalization by now. While this bill won’t legalize marijuana or allow its sales, it is an important event that will start a dialogue, Delaware Rep. Helene Keeley said. Although the bill has a big support in the Democratic legislature, it’s future is definitely not certain. Most likely, the bill will face opposition from the Republican Party – a minority party, but a strongly opposing one. It is important to say that more than two-thirds of Delaware voters support removing criminal penalties for marijuana possession – the recent poll from March 2014 has found. Interestingly, the same poll has found that majority of voters also support the legalization of marijuana for adults. People would like to see it being regulated and taxed just like alcohol or cigarettes.
Alcohol legalization required a constitutional amendment, repealing the amendment that made it illegal…