Is Marijuana Legal in the State of Delaware?
In Delaware, such as places like Dover or Wilmington, it is legal to purchase, possess, and consume cannabis for medical purposes only, requiring that the individual apply to the state for a license to buy and carry medical marijuana. The Blue Hen State has decriminalized possession amounts of up to one ounce, however, they have not legalized adult-use, recreational weed.
History of Weed Laws
The Delaware Medical Marijuana Act was signed by Governor Markell in 2011, providing a registry system for medical patients who had one of the qualifying conditions determined by the state which would be appropriate for marijuana treatment. Later, in 2015, the state decriminalized marijuana use (Delaware House Bill 39 (HB 39)), allowing for up to 175 grams of possession to be considered a misdemeanor, and 1 ounce a civil infraction.
In 2018, lawmakers failed to pass Delaware House Bill 110, which would have legalized adult-use recreational marijuana. Had it been passed; it would have made Delaware the 10th state to do so. A similar bill was reintroduced the next year but failed again.
Senate Bill 37 was signed by Governor Carney in 2019, which effectively permitted the expungement of anyone who had a cannabis misdemeanor on their record after 5 years, or one felony after 7 years.
The state’s Medical Marijuana Program is overseen by the DHSS (Department of Health and Social Services), through the Office of Medical Marijuana which was developed in response to the legalization of medical cannabis. The OMM has developed a registration system for patients to approve those with qualifying conditions access to state-licensed marijuana dispensaries.
Where Can a Person Legally Purchase Weed in Delaware?
Only authorized medical patients can legally make marijuana purchases and must do so from a state-licensed compassion center, which is a dispensary. Patients are permitted to designate a caregiver to make purchases for them if they are unable to themselves. Patients and caregivers can purchase up to 3 ounces of cannabis every 14 days. Many dispensaries offer delivery service to medical patients, as well as curbside pickup.
Where Can Cannabis Legally Be Used?
DE law does not permit cannabis to be used in any public space of any kind, which means that medical patients must consume it only on private property, such as in their own homes. A couple exceptions apply, however. A person cannot consume cannabis on a private property that prohibits tobacco use, and cannot consume cannabis inside a parked vehicle.
DUI laws pertain to medical patients, which means that medical patients caught driving under the influence of marijuana can be subjected to the same penalties as non-medical patients, and those caught driving under the influence of alcohol. Therefore, cannabis use inside of a vehicle, whether parked or driving, is strictly prohibited.
Only those who are authorized by the state to purchase medical marijuana can legally possess it at this time. There is a strict possession limit of 6 ounces, which applies to both patients and caregivers designated by patients. Even though possession of small amounts by recreational users has been decriminalized, it is still not legal. Therefore, being caught possessing cannabis as a recreational user can lead to a small penalty and require the forfeit of the cannabis to authorities. It is not a recorded offense if the amount is less than an ounce, but higher amounts can lead to higher charges.
Can Residents Grow Their Own?
Cultivation of marijuana is strictly prohibited throughout the state of Delaware, and this applies to recreational users, medical patients, and caregivers. Getting caught growing marijuana, regardless of your involvement in the state’s medical marijuana program, can lead to criminal charges.
Patients who have any of the below qualifying conditions can apply for medical marijuana through the state’s MMP website. This allows them to receive an authorized medical card issued by the state, which is valid at any state-licensed dispensary. This card only authorizes purchases made at dispensaries licensed by the state. A medical marijuana card may also be administered to a caregiver if applicable.
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), or Lou Gehrig’s disease
- Cachexia, or wasting syndrome
- Chronic debilitating migraines
- Hepatitis C
- Intractable epilepsy
- Intractable nausea
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Seizure disorder
- Severe autism
- Severe, persistent muscle spasms, including multiple sclerosis
- Severe, debilitating pain that has not responded to previously prescribed medication
- Terminal illness
Patients may petition the state if they have a condition not on this list and believe that they would benefit from medical marijuana.
To qualify for Delaware’s medical marijuana program, you must be at least 18 years of age, or be a minor whose parent or legal guardian fills out the application on your behalf. You must have a qualifying condition as determined by the list above, and a certification from a licensed physician showing the diagnosis and approval for marijuana as a form of treatment.
How to Register for Medical Marijuana in Delaware
To register for the state’s medical marijuana program, you must submit an application as provided through the MMP website. The card costs $125 and is renewed annually. You must provide a state-issued ID to prove your residency during the application process.
Qualifying as a Caregiver
To qualify as a caregiver in the state of Delaware, you must be at least 21 years of age, and must care for a maximum of 5 patients at a time. There is a $125 application fee per patient, and a criminal background check will be performed.
Registering as a Caregiver
To register as a caregiver, you must fill out an application form through the DHSS, pay an application fee and provide proof of residency through a state-issued ID.
Does not have reciprocity laws. This means that residents from another state who are visiting DE, including those with medical cards from their home state, cannot legally purchase cannabis at a dispensary.
All cannabis products sold for medical marijuana purposes in dispensaries are required to have undergone an advanced third-party testing process performed by a state-licensed laboratory. This testing process identifies the cannabinoids and terpenes present in the cannabis while also testing for unwanted compounds including various impurities and contaminants, to ensure safety.