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Delaware Marijuana Laws
Delaware marijuana laws have undergone significant changes in recent years, with the state legalizing medical marijuana in 2011 and decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana in 2015.
As of 2023, Delaware remains one of the 36 states in the U.S. that have legalized medical marijuana while also permitting the possession and use of small amounts of cannabis for recreational purposes. However, the state’s marijuana laws still prohibit the sale and distribution of cannabis for non-medical purposes.
This article will explore Delaware’s current marijuana laws and regulations, including the medical marijuana program, decriminalization laws, and recent updates to the state’s recreational marijuana laws.
Is Marijuana Legal in Delaware?
In July 2021, Delaware decriminalized recreational marijuana for adults aged 21 and over with the Delaware Marijuana Control Act. Under the new law, adults can legally possess up to one ounce of marijuana and can grow up to six plants for personal use. The sale of recreational marijuana is not yet legal, but a regulatory framework is being developed, and sales are expected to begin in the future.
Medical Marijuana Program in Delaware
Delaware has a Medical Marijuana Program that allows patients with qualifying medical conditions to access and consume medical marijuana. The program is run by the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) and is regulated by the Delaware Medical Marijuana Act.
Qualifying medical conditions for the program include:
- Terminal illness;
- Decompensated cirrhosis;
- Hepatitis C;
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis/Lou Gehrig’s disease;
- Agitation of Alzheimer’s disease;
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD);
- Intractable epilepsy;
- Autism with self-injurious or aggressive behavior;
- Chronic debilitating migraines;
- Severe or persistent muscle spasms, including those characteristics of multiple sclerosis;
- A chronic or debilitating disease or medical condition that produces one or more of the following:
- Cachexia (wasting syndrome);
- Severe, debilitating pain that has not responded to prescribed medication in three months;
- Intractable nausea;
Patients who are interested in joining the program must first obtain a certification from a qualified physician in Delaware, who must confirm that the patient has a qualifying medical condition and could benefit from using medical marijuana.
In order to qualify for a Medical Marijuana card, you must meet the following qualifications:
- Be 18 years of age or older or be a pediatric patient with parental consent.
- Be diagnosed with a qualifying medical condition – the list can be found here.
- Have a Health Care Practitioner Certification from a Delaware-licensed MD, DO, APRN or PA.
- Be a Delaware resident with proof of residency (DE Driver’s License or DE State ID).
Once certified, patients can apply to the DHSS for a medical marijuana ID card. This card allows patients to purchase medical marijuana from one of Delaware’s licensed compassion centers (dispensaries) that operate in the state.
Purchasing Limits in Delaware
Patients and caregivers may possess up to six ounces of marijuana. The program also allows caregivers to purchase and administer medical marijuana on behalf of patients who cannot do so themselves.
Possession of up to an ounce of marijuana for recreational use was decriminalized in 2015. The penalty for possession of that amount is now a $100 fine.
Where Can I Use or Possess Marijuana
In Delaware, it is legal for individuals 21 years or older to possess and consume recreational marijuana in private places. This means that you can use and possess marijuana in your own home or on private property if the owner allows it.
However, it is illegal to smoke, vape, or consume marijuana in public places such as parks, sidewalks, and restaurants. It is also illegal to possess marijuana on school grounds or in a vehicle, even if you are a passenger.
If you are a medical marijuana patient, you are allowed to possess and use medical marijuana in accordance with the Delaware Medical Marijuana Act. This means you can use and possess medical marijuana in private places.
Sale and Distribution of Marijuana in Delaware
The sale and distribution of marijuana is currently legal for medical purposes and is expected to become legal for recreational purposes in Delaware in the near future.
For medical marijuana, Delaware has a regulated system that allows licensed compassion centers (dispensaries) to sell marijuana products to certified patients who have obtained an ID card from the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS). Compassion centers are regulated by the DHSS, and all products must be tested and labeled according to state regulations.
It is important to note that the sale and distribution of marijuana outside the regulated system is illegal and can result in criminal charges. Additionally, it is illegal to transport marijuana across state lines, even if it is legal in another state.
The cultivation of marijuana is legal in Delaware for medical purposes and is expected to become legal for recreational purposes in the near future.
For medical marijuana, Delaware has a regulated system that allows licensed compassion centers (dispensaries) to cultivate marijuana plants and sell marijuana products to certified patients who have obtained an ID card from the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS). The cultivation of medical marijuana is also allowed for patients and caregivers who are registered with the DHSS and have obtained cultivation authorization.
It is important to note that the cultivation of marijuana outside the regulated system is illegal and can result in criminal charges. Additionally, it is illegal to transport marijuana across state lines, even if it is legal in another state.
Driving and Traveling
Driving and traveling under the influence of marijuana is illegal in Delaware, whether you are a medical marijuana patient or an adult using marijuana recreationally.
In Delaware, it is illegal to operate a vehicle under the influence of any substance that impairs your ability to drive safely, including marijuana. The state’s DUI laws apply to medical and recreational marijuana users. The legal limit for THC (the psychoactive compound in marijuana) in the bloodstream while driving is 5 nanograms per milliliter of blood.
If you are caught driving under the influence of marijuana, you can be charged with a DUI, which can result in fines, license suspension, and even jail time, depending on the circumstances of the offense. Additionally, if you are a medical marijuana patient and are found to be under the influence while driving, your certification and ID card could be revoked.
It is also important to note that it is illegal to travel with marijuana across state lines, even if it is legal in another state. If you are traveling within Delaware, it is recommended that you keep your marijuana in a secure, sealed container in the trunk of your car or another area not accessible to the driver.
Marijuana Advertising Laws in Delaware
Advertising marijuana in Delaware is regulated by state law. For medical marijuana, advertising is allowed, but there are restrictions on the content and placement of ads. Compassion centers (dispensaries) are allowed to advertise their products and services, but their ads must not target minors, use misleading or false information, or contain content that encourages excessive or inappropriate consumption.
For recreational marijuana, the Delaware Marijuana Control Act prohibits advertising that targets minors, or that is false or misleading. The law also prohibits outdoor advertising of marijuana products and services, such as billboards, signs, or posters. Ads for recreational marijuana products and services must also contain a warning that the product is for adults aged 21 and over.
While there are still regulatory and implementation issues to work out, the overall trend toward greater acceptance of cannabis in Delaware is clear. With the potential for new business opportunities, tax revenue, and job creation, the legalization of cannabis could positively impact the state’s economy. The future of cannabis in Delaware looks promising, and it will be interesting to see how the state continues to evolve its approach to this controversial issue.
Please keep in mind that the information provided above about Delaware marijuana laws is for informational purposes only and should not be interpreted as legal advice. As regulations regarding cannabis are subject to frequent updates and changes, it is essential to adhere to the relevant guidelines to ensure compliance and avoid legal consequences.