Delaware marijuana laws were changed as of midnight last night. Delaware has become the most recent state in the country to decriminalize certain marijuana laws as a part of the marijuana reform that is sweeping across the United States. Under the new law, people over 21 years old who have up to an ounce of marijuana in their possession will no longer be arrested. Instead, the punishment will only be having to pay a fine of $100. Being caught with marijuana paraphernalia is also now punishable of only a fine of $100. Prior to the marijuana law change, being caught with up to an ounce of marijuana could result in a jail sentence of up to six months. People who are 18 to 21 years old are not protected by the new law.
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Police officers in Delaware are not very happy with the new marijuana law. Lieutenant Edward Huey of the Milford Police Department spoke about the potential problem that he and other law enforcement officials see happening in the future.
“Someone in possession of this if they don’t have it divided up into smaller packages could argue the point that it was intended for personal use when it is actually for sale. Today’s criminals are more apt to make adjustments. We’ll probably see people who are actually dealing with marijuana, carry it in packages like this, right up to the maximum amount.”
Even though officers will no longer be able to arrest a person over 21 with an ounce or less of marijuana in their possession, the police are still able to seize the marijuana and force the person to fill out paperwork to appear in court for the civil violation. Lieutenant Huey sees the bright side of this law too. The decriminalization of up to an ounce of marijuana will allow police to focus on more important and more violent crimes. Law enforcement will still be on the lookout for people driving while under the influence of marijuana. Lieutenant Huey explains.
“If he smells marijuana, that’s probable cause for him to detain that person. If he sees other signs that a person may be under the influence of marijuana, that’s probable cause for him to detain that person.”
Many of those in Delaware see this as a win and are happy that laws regarding marijuana are starting to be relaxed. Cyn Ferguson, executive director of DENORML, comments about the feeling of the public in Delaware.
“A lot of people are really happy. People, really conservative people, pull me aside every week and say to me that they are so happy that marijuana is decriminalized. They don’t even smoke it, they just don’t agree with prohibition.”
Marijuana reform is a political topic that has been gaining momentum over the past few years. Currently, marijuana is legalized in 23 states for medical usage. Recreational use of marijuana is now legal in Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Alaska, and the District of Columbia. The money that these states have been able to raise due to new tax revenue generated by legal marijuana has other states looking at the potential of legalizing the drug.
In the first year of legal marijuana in Colorado, the drug industry generated $313 million in recreational sales. Medical marijuana in Colorado generated $386 million in sales. The tax revenue that Colorado received from the marijuana industry was $63 million. That much money in new taxes has helped Colorado, and other states who legalized the industry, get themselves closer to coming out of the recession that most states are in.
Massachusetts, Nevada, California, New York, Vermont, Minnesota, Connecticut, and Maryland are all expected to propose legislation that will legalize marijuana in their states.
Do you think the Delaware marijuana reform is the right move?
[Image Via AP Photo/Brennan Linsley]