In the past 24 hours, there have been two significant advances toward modernizing Delaware’s marijuana laws. Yesterday, Rep. Helene Keeley put forth amendments to her marijuana legalization and regulation bill, HB 110, which address concerns and reduce the number of votes needed for passage. Then, this morning, the Senate unanimously approved a limited but important marijuana expungement bill!
Let them know it’s past time to end Delaware’s failed experiment with marijuana prohibition. Our software makes the process quick and easy. Just type in your contact info and your lawmakers’ names and phone numbers will appear — one at a time — along with some suggested talking points.
With the legislative session ending on June 30, there’s no time to waste. So, make a couple of calls to help make history! Then, spread the word on social media or by email, to ask other thoughtful Delawareans to speak out for sensible marijuana policies.
A new poll conducted by the University of Delaware finds 56% support for legalizing marijuana, with just 39% opposed. Earlier this year, Rep. Helene Keeley, Sen. Bryan Townsend, and Sen. Margaret Rose Henry sponsored legislation to reduce the penalty for simple possession of marijuana from a criminal charge to a civil fine. This is a strong step in the right direction.
Under current Delaware law, possessing even a small amount of marijuana is a criminal offense, carrying up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,150. And the effects of a conviction don’t stop there. A criminal record can make it difficult to find a job, obtain educational opportunities, or even find adequate housing.
Nineteen states and the District of Columbia have replaced the threat of jail for possession of marijuana with a fine. If you are a Delaware resident, ask your state representative and senator to make the same modest reform, and then ask your fellow Delawareans to call for this long overdue reform, too.
Yesterday, the Delaware House Public Safety & Homeland Security Committee voted 6-1 to release Rep. Helene Keeley’s decriminalization bill. This bill would remove criminal penalties for the simple possession of small amounts of marijuana, and instead impose a civil fine. The proposal may now be considered on the House floor.
This is a strong step towards more fiscally sound and humane marijuana policies. A March poll found that 68% of Delawareans across the political spectrum support making the possession of up to an ounce of marijuana for personal use punishable by a fine of up to $100, without jail time. Across the nation, 19 states and the District of Columbia have already passed similar measures.
This is a much-needed measure in Delaware, where African Americans are more than three times more likely to be arrested for the possession of marijuana than users of other races are, despite similar rates of use across all races. Criminal records have devastating effects; they can become obstacles to obtaining an education, employment, and even housing. This measure would also free up law enforcement to focus on addressing serious crimes instead of arresting adults for using a substance objectively safer than alcohol.