A new law decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana has opened a new set of questions for Delaware law enforcement.
“We have to talk with the attorney general,” said New Castle County Police Chief Elmer Setting on Friday, the day after Gov. Jack Markell signed the measure.
The legislation, which takes effect in six months, eliminates criminal penalties for possession by an adult of 1 ounce of cannabis or less for personal use. A violation will be considered a civil offense punishable by a $100 fine and would not become part of a person’s criminal record.
“It’s going to be similar to having an open can of alcohol” in public, Setting said.
A violation currently is categorized as a misdemeanor and punishable by a fine of up to $1,150 and six months in jail.
The legislation will not change any rules regarding medical marijuana or penalties for operating a vehicle under the influence of drugs. Selling pot also will remain banned. Smoking marijuana in a moving vehicle, in public areas, or outdoors on private property within 10 feet of a street, sidewalk or other area generally accessible to the public will be a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $200 and imprisonment of up to five days.
“People should do this in their own homes …,” said state Sen. Margaret Rose Henry, D-Democrat, who sponsored the legislation, House Bill 39. “It should not be done in cars. It should be done in the privacy of your own home.”
I don’t oppose legalization of marijuana. However, Markell’s new decriminalization law will add to the out of control murder rate in Wilmington.
With his pen, Markell sign a law that created new opportunities for street corner drug pushers by expanding the demand and giving many a false-sense that possessing and smoking marijuana is legal in a sense that it will be treated like alcohol.
At the end of the day, someone is going to profit from a non regulated commodity and the notion that decriminalization of marijuana is going to allow our police to focus on more serious crimes saving taxpayers money by not policing what was considered petty crime have another thing coming.
Selling and distribution of marijuana is sill illegal and allow people possession of marijuana drives the drug market. This law will increase the demand and sadly to say, many users who aren’t reading the devil in the details re: law are going to play dumb.
Our police will pursue drug pushers and you can bet those “recreational users” busted for little in fraction within the scope of this law will roll on their suppliers. Snitches will always get stitches and the naive ” recreational users” are clueless to street justice.
The new laws says, a person can’t be busted for using a dope-pipe while smoking pot but can be busted for possessing a dope pipe not currently being use. (a) It is unlawful for any person to use, or possess with intent to use, drug paraphernalia as defined in § 4701(17) of this title. Except that any person charged under § 4764 (a), (b), or (d), or assessed a civil penalty under § 4764(c), shall not also be charged with this offense. SYNOPSIS “A person charged or assessed a civil violation in connection with a personal use quantity of marijuana cannot also be charged with possession of drug paraphernalia. A person who is not charged with personal use quantity of marijuana possession can still be charged or assessed a civil violation of possession of drug paraphernalia”
H.B.# 30 is nothing more than a legislative steppingstone to full decriminalization of marijuana. However, that won’t happen until marijuana is regulated and taxed. But in the meantime, there are those law-abiding citizens who see decriminalization as legalization being caught in the gray areas of the law. And as for our police, there jobs just got harder. Keep in mind folks, just because less than an ounce of pot is legal to posses, it doesn’t prohibit the police from asking ” were did you get it.” Nervous “recreational users” may just tell!
Sadly, I see an expanding drug trade in the city of Wilmington and more suburban folks heading into Wilmington to score! I also see, troubles plaguing Wilmington expanding into the county! And you can bet our beach resort areas will be impacted.
At the end of the day rich / middle class people can buy their way out (lawyers) of allowing themselves to cross the gray line of this law and poor folks still same old same old!
The right thing to do is legalize marijuana, regulate and tax it. Mirror the alcohol laws for marijuana.
Dear mothers of a children murdered in drug related drug activities he or she was involved in; your child danced with the devil and loss. However, laws that promote selling of drugs in open markets is the true enemy.