Senate lawmakers gave final legislative approval yesterday to a measure that decriminalizes the possession and private use of up to one ounce of cannabis. Once the law was approved by the Senate, it was passed onto the desk of Governor Jack Markell, who signed it almost immediately. The bill was introduced and sponsored by Representative Helene Keeley (D-Wilmington) and will reduce the penalties for simple possession down to a civil fine of $100, set to take effect six months from Governor Markell’s signature.
Although the measure received Democratic support in both the House and the Senate, it did not receive any Republican support. Senator Colin Bonini (R-Dover) was vocally against decriminalization, saying, “This is a bill we’re going to regret…Would you want your kid smoking weed?”
The decriminalization measure only affects adults over the age of 21, so the argument is kind of a moot point. Simple possession of cannabis by those under the age of 18 will still be a criminal offense, and for those between the ages of 18 and 21, the first offense will result in a civil penalty and any further offenses will escalate to a misdemeanor.
“People should do this in their own homes…It should be done in the privacy of their own homes,” said another chief sponsor of the bill, Senator Margaret Rose Henry (D-Wilmington East).
Great work, Delawareans! And many thanks to you, Governor Markell!